It’s Sunday morning and I am home again after a truly glorious vacation in paradise.  And my first thought, I hate to admit, is that reality bites.  We arrived late, both my husband and one of my sons are feeling like they are getting the flu (although we’re all grateful that the symptoms manifested on the flight home instead of on the way there), and our three dogs woke me up at 6:30 AM as usual (yes, we could train them, but my whole family agrees that we don’t want to “break their spirits”- and yes, I am fully aware of how completely wrongheaded this attitude is, but there you have it).  It’s also cold, and after being warm for a week, the cold is a serious buzz kill. 

Ok, I think I’m done whining, at least for now, although I reserve the right to pick it up later if I want to.  Underneath all of the annoyances and inconveniences of my reality, as I finish yet another installment the Black Dagger Brotherhood, (I re-read Zsadits’s stories, Lover Awakened and Father Mine after finishing The King), it occurs to me that perhaps I need to turn my premise on its head.  This space is devoted to truth in fantasy, but I’m thinking I would be very well served to also look for fantasy in reality.  After all, these books are based on underlying truths, so my reality probably reflects elements of fantasy, right?

Zsadist’s story is full of drama and trauma, and much of it is is sad and disturbing.  Kind of like life, except the elements of this narrative are exaggerated both to entertain and to make a point.  Zsadist is perceived as ruined, not broken, the implication being that broken can sometimes be fixed, but ruined is destroyed forever.   I think that if you live for long enough, or even if you are young, there are moments (or maybe times measured in larger units) when each of us feels irreparably broken—ruined.  These moments of despair can be fleeting, or they might be lasting.  Hopefully, though, they are never permanent, although for some I know they are.

For me, and here’s where I can relate to Zsadist, a centuries-old warrior vampire who is illiterate and seriously psychologically and physically damaged, fighting back from that brink takes effort and courage.  And the person who wrote about Zsadist’s struggles, the brilliant J.R. Ward, understands that reality, which tells me I am not alone.

So, in truth, reality does sometimes bite badly.  But waking up early with no coffee and no warm tropical breezes does not constitute true suckage.  A little perspective, compliments of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, has certainly been welcome this first morning back from my vacation.  But I’m thinking that with a little more reflection, I can find some fantasy in my reality to add a chaser of real appreciation to my perspective.

Fantasy, in common understanding, is something that seems ideal and idealized, something that fires up the pleasure receptors in our brains, and often reflects an enhanced reality or sometimes a complete foray into the totally impossible but radically appealing.  So I have to ask myself as I survey my current situation—any of that going on here? And my answer must be a resounding, unequivocal, and undeniable “YES!”

Those dogs that woke me up at the crack of dawn? Nothing and no one’s gonna love you like your dogs- that unconditional devotion is something not even a mother (of the good variety- not like mine) can offer.  And the chill in the air? The better to snuggle under the covers with my (currently sick) husband, when I crawl back to bed after I’ve let the dogs out and fed them.  No coffee, no problem- good excuse to take the boys out for brunch this morning and have some extra family time.  Ideal? Idealized? You betcha.

So, it’s at least partially a matter of how you look at your reality.  Is life always going to be a bed of roses? No, it’s not.  Sometimes there’s almost no fantasy to be found unless we turn to the paper of our favorite fiction.  But sometimes that same book can be a beacon illuminating the larger truth in our own personal reality, highlighting the precious parts, the little glimmers of brilliance to be found within the daily grind.  Even if there’s no daily grind to be had in my morning coffee pot. 

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