There is no such thing as fantasy.
There is only that which is possible and has not yet come to pass.
I don’t mean this in the sense that magic is possible (although I try to keep an open mind). I intend to say that the actions, decisions, and wills displayed by fantastical characters are very much visions of the possible.
If it is conceivable, it is doable.
We idolize great characters, full to bursting with courage, integrity, and genius.
Yet we continue to think of them as purely fictional. Nothing more than an enjoyable respite from a far crueler (and more boring) reality.
Perhaps our reality is so cruel and boring precisely because we have failed to become fantastical ourselves!
Have you ever been reading a great book or watching a great movie, and been struck with unspeakable awe at the actions of a particular character? Have you felt that lifting that begins in your gut and seems to carry your whole being upwards into a better state of mind, where your senses are heightened such that you only see and hear that which is wonderful?
Only for it to fall back into place as a single thought creeps into your mind; “I could never be like that. I could never be that courageous, that honest, that committed.”
Well, there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if I’ve ever heard one!
There are two states of mind in which you can go through life: believing that greatness is possible, or believing that it isn’t.
When you examine the pros and cons of these mindsets, the better option becomes abundantly clear.
Let’s say that greatness is possible. If you believe that it isn’t, you will never strive to reach it. Yet if you think that it is, it will soon be within your grasp.
But let’s imagine a crueler world, in which greatness is not possible. In this circumstance, you may be technically correct in thinking pessimistically, but it doesn’t serve you. He who still believes anything is possible may not achieve anything higher than he who doesn’t, but the believer will be much more fulfilled.
He will have hope.
Nothing is possible until you believe that it is. And no aspect of these fantasy worlds we cherish will ever exist until we manifest those aspects in ourselves.
So if the positive mindset is so fundamentally superior, then why do people with a pessimistic mindset exist?
Here we arrive at the issue of identity.
Let us imagine a person who is in the second half of their life. Their capacity to achieve greatness or redemption is diminishing every day. They have not already arrived at greatness because they were complacent in the first half of their life, and did not thrust themselves fully into the pursuit of their highest potential.
This person has two options. They can, on the one hand, either believe that greatness was always possible to them, and they let is pass by. In this case, they must shoulder immense guilt. Alternatively, they can believe that greatness is utterly impossible, and thus release themselves from any regret.
We already know that this person isn’t one to take on unnecessary discomfort, so which choice do you think they will make?
What’s worse is that this choice doesn’t just hold them back from reaching what greatness is still possible to them — it also turns them into a barrier against others who seek the greatest in themselves. A person who has committed themselves to pessimism in an attempt to insulate themselves against guilt now must, by the nature of their decision, become an enemy of greatness.
Should they witness someone reaching their highest potential, it would fundamentally challenge their worldview. It would then become impossible for the cynic to believe that no greatness is achievable. They would have to either drive themselves to the insanity of ignoring reality or accept not only the guilt of letting their own greatness pass them by but also the guilt of becoming an enemy of greatness altogether.
What do you think they would prefer to do?
Prevent all greatness from manifesting around them. Hold down everyone else in their life, quietly and insidiously, so that they never have to have their belief in a cruel reality challenged.
In this way, they create the reality in which they have chosen to believe.
This is the danger of forming your identity based on what you believe is impossible — to identify with your failures. It is to become a creature of fear and destruction. An agent of a hellish reality in which nothing is possible for men but to suffer and die. The human equivalent of an oozing tar-pit that consumes and preserves everything it touches in a state of eternal suffocation.
Build your identity on what is possible — on what you will strive for no matter what comes. Let your passion for life burn with such intense heat that these tar-monsters bubble and evaporate when they attempt to touch you. Become the perfect hybrid of all that widens your eyes will awe. Let yourself believe in a better future because only then will it have a chance of becoming real.
Be the character that you love the most, and enjoy loving yourself with the same comforting intensity.