Saturday, January 9, 2010
I found religion when I was in middle school. Correction: I didn't find it, I created it. I developed an intricate method of worship, including holidays and songs, dedicated to the world of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. (The Black Cauldron, the second book in the Chronicles, was a Newbery Honor winner in 1966, and The High King, the final book in the Chronicles, won the Newbery Medal for 1969.) This fantastic world of magic, assistant pig-keepers, and princesses seemed much more real than my world of report cards, mean girls, and custody issues. As I struggled to find my place in the world, I found comfort in knowing that Taran and Eilonwy had gone through their own rites of passage, and emerged stronger and better for them. When I sang to the characters (and I did understand that they were characters and not real people - I'm not crazy), I discovered the values that I wanted to cultivate in myself. To this day, I think of pent up resentment as "the black beast," wisdom as the highest achievement, and music (particularly harp playing) as the bearer of truth. Rereading the Prydain Chronicles as an adult has made me aware of how different I am from that shy adolescent who craved the certainty of an imaginary world. While the Prydain Chronicles filled an important void in my life, and I will always consider them some of my favorite books, I no longer need them to give me faith. Like Taran, I have gained wisdom with age and discovered that the only lasting faith is that which comes from within. And that is the best kind of magic.
Another decade down >>>> Many more to go!