This was one of those rare days of spontaneity, the types of days I don’t embark on too often. Probably not often enough. It also happened to be my birthday, which meant the prospect of adventure was even more enthralling. On this day, I decided to go to a park, one i’d never visited before. To do this day I don’t remember the name, but I think perhaps that doesn’t matter. The ambiguity of a thing’s existence makes it all the more magical.
Cool, shady woodland shielded us from the sunbeams, as we danced through the dappled air, climbing up muddy inclines, and sliding down the other side just quickly enough to feel a little giddy. A stream meandered along nearby, growing wider and wider until the trees broke into a stretch of canal. Cyclists zoomed by, reveling in the swift airflow as we clambered over the canal bridges, looking down to see two goofy smiles twinkling back at us from the crystalline water below. We did not follow the canal long though, and, favouring the refuge of the leafy canopy, ventured back into the woods on a trail much less traveled. Here, the path was faint, nothing more than an animal trail. Oddly placed rocks, almost perceivable as steps, teased us as we attempted to find our way. Up and up we climbed, along a windy route, over twisted roots, under low-hanging branches, until we reached a wire mesh border. We looked left and right to see nothing but miles of trees all crammed together, pressed against the wire. In the distance ahead lay a multitude of houses, each with extensions stretching out to devour the meadows. No man’s land. Just along the horizon though, halfway between us and them, lay a peculiar band of yellow. We squinted, leaning over the barrier until our fingers were indented with mesh print. We looked at each other, there was only one way forward.
One conveniently-placed tree stump later and a slightly wobbly landing, we had landed in the meadow. Our feet were greeted by spongy, flat terrain, and we bounced along the tufts, the golden band looming ever closer. All at once we were in the midst of a sea of yellow. A thousand specs of sunshine nodded towards us in a wave of welcome. The houses forgotten, I sat down among the cluster of petals. They were like tiny pieces of sunshine, scattered around the field just waiting for someone to wander in and be overwhelmed by their magnificence. Pure, natural, floral brilliance. This was one of those moments, one of those moments of complete and utter happiness. For some time we sat, bathed in nature’s golden glow, warm, happy, content. Then the clouds began to draw in, and it was time to leave our shimmering meadow. Back across the field, into the woods, down the rocky steps, along the canal… and all at once, reality again.
Reality is a strange concept really. What is real and what is fantasy? Where do the boundaries meet, overlap, overflow one into the other? Is it simply judged by the limits of our imagination, or is it more than that? There have been many guesses, leading to many interesting and complex universal inquiries, but no real answers. All I know is, I am quite willing to allow my imagination to whisk me away from the present whenever it feels the need. I love seeing something totally normal – an object, utensil, building – and turning it into something fantastical. I love to stand on the tops of mountains, or deep in forests, or even in bustling market places, and imagine that I live in a parallel world where everything is bathed in a dystopic or utopic madness. Perspective is a wonderful thing, but just because I choose to view the world in a fantastical light does not mean everyone should. However, I believe that as long as pockets of real fantasy remain in the world, celebrated by those who have that rare vision, then magic will survive.