I loved to read when I was a child. I would spend hours upon hours reading the Oz books, Dr. Dolittle books, Paddington books, Little House series, and Wrinkle in Time series, to name just a few. I got lost in the worlds that the authors created, and it was easy to imagine myself alongside the characters enjoying the happy stories and the journey with them.
“What’s fascinated me from the time I was a little kid was the way we construct our lives through stories.”
~ Henry Louis Gates
The best part was always the ending. Even though I usually didn’t want the books to end, it made me feel good to know that the characters resolved their differences, moved through their challenges, and came to a place of greater awareness and peace.
Did you ever notice that? In children’s books, the main characters are allowed to learn and mature through their adventures. They encounter obstacles and learn their lessons, then come to a place of resolution. They are “allowed” to be happy.
For some reason, as adults, we look for more complicated storylines. Adult books and movies are filled with infinite twists and turns, and lots of darkness. Often when movies are tested on audiences, it’s the ending with an unresolved situation that tests strongest. It’s almost as if we want characters to feel lost, hurt, sad, and alone.
Why do we like to make things more complicated as adults? Why are we attracted to drama?
Some of you may say that the books and movies merely reflect life the way it “really” is.
But is that true?
What if life is one big story and we are the authors? Or, what if life is far easier than we make it? What if life challenges really can be smoothed out quickly and with little effort? What if we are making it all far more complicated than it needs to be?
For me, it’s simple. I prefer living a happy story where people smile and treat each other kindly. Occasionally we even break out in a song and dance. There is little drama, and at night everyone sleeps safely and soundly. That may be boring to some, but it suits me just fine.
So, when we come to that fork in the road and one path has a character holding a hatchet and wearing a bloody hockey mask while the other path has a fun-loving group of characters laughing and skipping along the way, you know which one I’ll pick!