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Henry David Thoreau said:
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.I have enjoyed the dvd of Howl’s Moving Castle so I bought the three books by Diana Wynne Jones to read. Sensible Shoes says that the movie and the books are very different. The title of the second book Castle in the Air stuck in my head and made me think about building castles in the air.
(Walden, 323- 324)
Do books help us do that? I think they do. I think they raise the level of our creativity and imagination.
The connotation of building castles in the air is often scornful as if those who did so were day dreamers who could not accomplish anything. And yet in Thoreau’s quote there is great hope. We need to imagine things before we can build them and put the foundation under the dreams.
I also bought and watched the first season of the TV show Once Upon a Time.
Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale drama series that premiered on Sunday October 23, 2011, on ABC. The show takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which its residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their real memories by a powerful curse. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline in Storybrooke, as well as a secondary storyline usually from another point in a character's life before the curse was enacted.There are lots of castles in the portion of the episodes before the curse takes place and the imagination soars even though the castles did not actually take to the air.
I thought the shows were a little too violent for children (well, the werewolf episode, at least) though a child named Henry is a main character. It is Henry’s belief in the tales from his book that fuels the premise of raising the curse and freeing the people in Storybrooke to be happy and to remember their past.
Once upon a time…magic words.
Somewhere I have a book with castle rooms and I was supposed to learn about myself by answering questions. I need to find that book now that I am older and walk through it again. I remember it was fun, but I had small children and very little time to dwell on the answers. (I found it! The Castle of the Pearl by Christopher Biffle).
But back to building castles in the air. I am for it.
Books feed our dreams and in a good way, I think.
Practical books are available to help us, too. My hubby gets books and magazines about woodworking and has used the plans to build many beautiful things.
He built this entertainment center for my oldest son and daughter-in-law.
He built this corner cupboard to replace one that was inherited and removed from his mom's house leaving an ugly hole to be filled.
Books stretch my imagination to other worlds and I enjoy meeting new people and aliens in space.
Both fiction and non-fiction stretch my mind.
The old folk tales, myths, legends and fairy tales have resonance. We do have to be careful about how they shape our thoughts. In his book Of Wolves and Men, Barry Lopez examines how we regard wolves and explains how tales have made us think a wolf is evil. There are a few tales about wolves nurturing children as in Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, but they are overshadowed by the bad tales where wolves are from the Devil. This led to the killing of humans accused of being werewolves in the Middle Ages.
Wiki tells the story of the twins Romulus and Remus:
When I was a teenager my castles in the air were:
Going to college
Having a good job
Living on a lake
Having lots of books
Well, you may ask, “How could such ordinary things be considered as castles in the air?”
I can only say that they were back then. I had no idea I could really accomplish them. I still feel that some of it was luck and good fortune as much as it was hard work. But first I had to dream them up. I had to wish for them with all my heart.
I remember one winter night when I was seventeen that while I was babysitting it rained and turned the road to pure ice. Luckily, the parents got home safely and the husband offered to drive me down the steep hill. I refused for safety’s sake. He thought I should call my dad, but waking my dad at midnight was not a good idea and again the road was so bad that I said no, I could walk. I don’t think I even had a flashlight.
When I got to the top of the hill I looked across three miles to the next ridge and saw a couple of lonely lights. I panicked and worried that I might fall and slide over the edge down the steep side of the hill and not be able to get back up to the road if I did. I remembered how the milk man had crashed one day and how he must have been grateful to hit a little tree that kept him from going over. I was afraid to walk in the middle of the road for fear a car might come along and not be able to stop.
I remembered how the bus driver had called one morning for us to walk out to the second corner and how my brother had laid face down on a small sled, a neighbor boy had piled on top of him and I had been invited to join them. I was afraid I would squash them and make the sled too heavy to move and there was no way to hold on to anything so I refused. The two of them sailed all the way to the first corner and that had been the gentle slope going the way I had just come. With all these pictures in my head I started down and step by step I made it home. So is the tale of my life. Step by step. Also to fall down, pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again.
Other people will wish for different things, of course.
If we can’t have some of our castles, we can maybe find others that are worthwhile.
Just don’t let people scorn you for building your castles, please.
In the mystery, The Devil’s Cave by Martin Walker, Bruno has a very small house that is his castle with his books and his wine and stored food and garden. It is threatened by evil people and though it was a small part of the book it loomed large with me. I like to immerse myself in Bruno’s world and life and I don’t want his dreams destroyed.
For some of us the dream of being independent is tops on our list and we enjoy books about people who have made their dream come true. In the mystery stories by Alexander McCall Smith, Precious achieves her dream plus she gains a devoted husband and two adopted children in the process.
In The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi, Juliet dreams of a home in Greece where the people are friendly so she works to learn the language and becomes a translator. She buys a rundown house that needs a lot of work. Aaman comes from Pakistan carrying the hope of earning his share of the money needed to buy a harvester for his village. He had dreamed of doing work on the computer, also.
Yes, hard work was needed and setbacks nearly stopped the dreams, but the book is a wonderful example of building the castle in the air against all naysayers and even extreme danger.
I never dreamed of flying a plane, but Maddie in Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein did. Flying airplanes without instruments and landing in the night on tiny pieces of ground surrounded by flashlights became Maddie’s talent. There are many true stories of women who made their dream of flying come true. West with the Wind by Beryl Markham is a true story about an intrepid lady pilot.
What books have fed your imagination?
What castles are you building in the air?
Diaries of the Week:
Write On! Do you want these stakes well done?
AIDS Walk Austin - some music for a Friday
Contemporary Fiction Views: Chance meetings and changes
Robert Fuller says:
The Rowan Tree Chapter 16 is up:NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early
The audiobook should be available soon. I will renew the Goodreads Giveaway for a free paperback at that time.