Well for one reason, escaping from Reality is something I’ve spent most of my life trying to do! I had a huge appetite for stories even before I could read - thanks, perhaps, to my Dad, who spent hours reading to me. Once I did learn to read (which to me was the main reason for going to school – I didn’t really see the need to stay on once I’d mastered that skill!) I pretty much disappeared from the real world for most of my childhood and adolescence.
With the reading, came daydreaming, and from the daydreaming came story-making. Story writing followed on naturally, and in one way or another I’ve ended up spending a considerable portion of my life escaping from reality.
I don’t regret it at all.
In fact, I’m quite convinced that escaping from reality is something most of us need to do on a regular basis. If it wasn’t so, then there would be no novels, plays, films or TV dramas! The fact is that the attempt to escape from reality, if only for a short time, is deeply woven into human nature and (consequently) into the fabric of society. I’m no expert, but is there any human culture that does not have its myths and legend and its story-telling traditions?
Of course, some forms of reality escape are intrinsically harmful. Drugs and excessive use of alcohol, for example, do not actually remove a person from reality. They just inhibit a person’s ability to deal with it. The most dedicated escaper must recognise that all escape is temporary. Reality is harder and stronger than any fantasy. That has to be recognised and allowed for: if we cling too tightly to our daydreams, Reality will eventually smash them.
Yet it is also true that those daydreams, however fragile, can still have an influence on the real world. They can give us things to aspire to, things to hope for. People who make changes in the world do so because they have a dream, or a vision, of something bigger, greater, better, brighter, and they work towards that end.
Reality should not be overrated. If we cannot escape it entirely, we can at least work to change it. It is not immutable.
Indeed, as a Christian, I believe that what we human beings perceive and label as ‘Reality’ is no more than shadow of something much greater, vaster, and more wonderful. To me, the concept of an infinite Creator God implies that, however far my imagination (or someone else’s) might take me, I will never do more than dip a finger in the ocean of the truly real.
Someday that greater reality will open up, and I will finally make my escape from the shallow, narrow, restricted little reality that we now inhabit. In the meantime, I continue to make small and limited escapes as often as possible. And I try and share my escape routes as widely as possible through my writing and story telling. And in this way, we may get just a glimpse of what wonder awaits us – just a moment of ‘Ahh’ or ‘Wow!’ that hints at an immensity of glory just round the next corner of reality.