“A story reflects life but also redeems it: assembled on the page, even unpredictable events can be plotted, their random scatter made part of a meaningful design.”
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland (p. 9).
I came across this quote recently in a book about the creation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
In this specific passage, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reflects on the fact that Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll’s famous novel, might have deliberately identified with the fictional Alice when trying to make sense of her life. As Liddell grew older and her memories of childhood became more distant, it is quite possible that Carroll’s narrative provided structure to her recollections, organizing them into a meaningful design.
A meaningful design.
A Wonderland of interesting, exhilarating, and upsetting moments.
A series of adventures.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m navigating the randomness of everyday life, it is often easy for me to lose sight of the larger story being written by my day, week, month, or year.
Days become like post-it notes on a pad, sticking to my memory for 24 hours before falling quietly away to some unknown place in my mind.
If I’m not careful, the magic of those days starts to get lost in the mundane. I begin to privilege routine and lament any disruptions to it.
I forget that the unpredictability of life is what makes it interesting.
I forget that I have the fun and frustrating opportunity of navigating my own mad world of curiosities.
I forget, in other words, that I am living and dreaming my own version of Wonderland.
I am my own Alice.
Yes, I can easily forget all of these things when confronted with the demands of everyday life.
But then, sooner or later, I read a quote like this one and I remember.
I remember that whimsy, mystery, and magic are available to anyone who has the imagination and inclination to see them.
I remember that my life is a series of adventures.
And it is when I remember these things that I can better appreciate the nonsense I encounter.
I can value the quirky cast of characters that make my life more interesting.
I can value the bumps, hiccups, and burps that permeate the rhythm of my days.
For it is when I consciously remind myself that I am living a story that could be shared with others someday, that I become more dedicated to making that story great. I see the meaning. I see the design. I feel the purpose.
My hope is that you do too.
Who knows? We might just end up in the pages of a brilliant novel someday.
But that really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we see the meaning of the days we have lived.
And that, in the end, we find joy in telling our stories.
I’m excited to hear yours!