Mythical Rationalization

When I was a kid, I went to private religious schools. Without going into the issue of religion, I struggled to believe everything they told me, but other kids were not so resilient. I have mentioned this before, but a friend of mine and I were about 10 or 11 and were talking about dinosaurs and he suddenly became melancholy. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he wished dinosaurs had actually existed. I referenced the found bones, the age of the Earth, and other information my fragile young mind had retained. He said that the Bible says that Earth is only about 10,000 years old and that God must have put the bones in the ground to trick us. Like all of paleontology was some great cosmic comedy routine for a giggling deity.

Even at that young age, I knew to let it go. I told him that I still believed in dinosaurs and that it was fun to think about them anyway. My mind refused to let it go, and so I applied my fantasy-loving brain to EVERYthing. I was an avid lover of the Narnia and Oz books, so I started thinking…if dinosaurs weren’t real, then what of unicorns, dragons, faeries, dryads, trolls, gorgons, mer people, and the like? If we could have evidence right in front of us for dinosaurs and still not believe in them, then what else was a lie?

My mind just doesn’t work right. Rather than doubt the existence of these things (as I’m sure the church elders would have preferred), I went the other way. I tried to think of how ALL those things could exist and fool the fossil records. There were huge forests out there where anything could be hiding. The rain forests have large swaths of them where new creatures are found all the time. The ocean is still so unexplored that anything could be under there. What if all these creatures changed themselves on purpose to avoid detection? (I know. I went to religious school and was essentially thinking about evolution. Imagine the horrors that would have ensued had I told anyone these thoughts!)

What of the skeletons, then? Where were the unicorn and mer people skeletons? Well, shark fossils are rare because of the composition of their anatomy. What if mer people were the same way? Or, because these things were, you know, MAGIC, what if they died differently and left no trace? I saw Legend with Tom Cruise when I was very young, and thought it explained everything. (How much glitter did they use in that movie, anyway?)

For instance, since unicorn horns held so much magic power, what if the horns dissolved into pure magic (and silver glitter?) or were made into swords which then were used against impossible medieval odds and won? When dryads died, did they just leave a hollow, sad, dead tree? Hans Christian Anderson solved the mer people conundrum for me…bubbles…because they were part of the sea. Obviously, right? I imagined that dragons molted and lost their wings when near death, looking like dinosaurs or snakes or lizards…but I didn’t like that. I finally decided that dragons knew their time was coming and burned themselves up in volcanoes, or in the heat of their own flames. They returned home just like mer people. As I think about it now, I imagined all these fantasy beings to return to their essential elements—water, fire, magic, wood, earth, etc.

Yes, this is how my mind worked when I was a kid. It still works that way. I’m good at finding loopholes, ways out of things. I can think of the origins and demise of almost any fantastical creature. Those times, those considerations (because I thought about them often), helped to shape my imagination. I still think about those basic concepts and may even use some of them.

I’m currently reading The Last Unicorn, and though I never read the book until now, I loved the movie as a kid. The book is lyrical, fantastical, and is steeped in its own myth and beauty. The writing is poetic and visceral, and the history behind the unicorn and all the denizens of the land stir me in a place I had all but forgotten. It brought all these memories and rationalizations back to my mind and made me think. It’s amazing how a child’s mind can work when forced against something he doesn’t want to believe or when faced with something he can’t believe.

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~ by Darren Endymion on June 11, 2015.

4 Responses to “Mythical Rationalization”

  1. Actually, the bible does mention about dinos. Though not in detail. So they are definitely real 🙂

  2. Well, I would tell him, but he’s likely in his thirties and I haven’t seen him since we were in the 5th or 6th grade. =)

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