It’s easy to say that life is nothing like the movies—that everything in fiction is exaggerated to the point of complete distortion, that we could never touch the glimmering mirage in novels or on TV—I don’t buy it.
I was sitting on the grass with my dog (trying to draw out any level of serotonin in myself) and I looked over at him at the perfect time to see a pristine white moth flutter by his ear as he lay there in the sunshine. It looked like a painting. It looked unreal. The sky was crystalline blue, and I could have paused there for long minutes watching Charlie pant with happy crescent eyes.
There wasn’t any swelling music or lens flares. There were no precise word choices or anything working to make the scene cinematic or book-worthy. It was simply life as it was.
I call these book moments, and the more I look for them, the more I find them, both in the past and present.
Fiction is one of the realest things people can do because everything comes from somewhere. All the transcriptions of great loves and powerful goods against dastardly evils, bone-weary survival and tragedy—of quiet moments and aesthetics—come from the real world. With maybe a bit of extra sparkle, because unlike real life, all their scenes are planned and follow a set route, whereas we are free to go off script at any given moment. We have the camera; we hold the pen. And isn’t that the great and terrible gift of free will?
But we record. We remember. We create.
Why? Because it’s real.
Everything comes from somewhere. I’ve seen proof time and time again that the magic is there if only we reach for it. Sometimes this “magic” is a perfectly placed ladybug on a leaf, like a page from a children’s book. Sometimes it’s looking at the stars with a friend after a hard day at work. An idyllic curl of steam from a mug. A picturesque ringlet. A phone call at the perfect time, right when an invisible audience would be leaning forward in anticipation; when a reader would be devouring pages at rapid speeds.
Humans have vast imaginations, yes. But, again, everything comes from somewhere. The powerful depictions of the human experience we see in novels and films exist right here, in us, around us. It’s already there. We simply have to grab hold of it, seek it, embrace it.
No, they do not last forever if found. There is no promise of that. However, part of that is learning when to let go of the moment and reach for the next, like a never-ending stretch of monkey bars. You can’t go forward until you’ve committed to the next bar. If you don’t, you fall. We’ve all experienced that burn of the metal on our palms, the twist and release, the brief weightlessness.
This practice doesn’t mean every day has to sparkle. It means every day is a chance to move forward, stay put, or slip backward. A chance to choose. To believe in more than what we’re told to expect from life by those who have long since stopped looking for life’s book moments and accepted the grey fate of disbelief, of pessimism disguised as realism.
There is more if we are brave enough to reach for it—to commit to the bold, to the courageous—and alongside that, to engage with the quiet daily magic in our sphere.
I remember this whenever I feel left behind or when loneliness threatens to swallow me whole—I remember the moth and the ladybug and how life lines up in harmony when you least expect it. And, that I have the pen.
If all of this sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, that’s because it is—at least, without the proper understanding that just as all of the wonders of fiction come from reality, so do the hurts. Hurt is probably one of the most documented experiences across humanity, and for good reason.
Accepting the cinema of regular life means reckoning with both sides of the coin. But today, I am thinking about the joys, the snippets of a grand, bigger picture. It’s not about exaggeration or romanticizing. When we’re truly paying attention, it does not take much to recognize the innate romance of being alive.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a book moment today.