A story about a precocious child, now an adult, with the ability to connect with living things in a unique way. Is it only our imagination that lessens as we grow older? A child will believe anything. Or rather, anything is possible to a child. The weight of the world hasn’t yet snuffed out their keen connections to the living world. “It seemed impossible, the more she grew and learned, that one small person could be any kind of bulwark against the careless cruelty of the world.” What a heartbreaking moment of realization. Or is it a tale of success? Even alone, she can do so much.
I’m not sure if what I’m writing here is as much a review or more so a reaction to Laura Todd Carns’s story “Illusions of Grandeur,” which is a meditation on the way we interact with the world—how we might make it better; how we might use our gifts to enhance other living creatures. But there’s an underlying sadness to it all—that we can’t save everything, everyone. And in some cases that means ourselves.
Perhaps the conditions that stretch our capacity for belief or believing (in something) more than anything is our… mortality? Or maybe just our current situation. I don’t know. Look death in the eye and, for a person who wants to live, they’ll believe almost anything. We need only point to religion to prove death’s power over us and what we might believe, however preposterous it might be. Still, there’s a connection here that takes place—a story about a person who still believes that belief itself is a worthy notion. “But she thinks, perhaps, that she can believe, for one moment, in her own grubby-kneed girlness.” It’s like the more philosophical version of Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” In this case, “If you believe, then…”
Or maybe not. Maybe belief is simply the final goodbye.
Read Laura Todd Carns’s thought-provoking and heart-wrenching story here.