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Essay: Small Decisions and Fiction

Redwall is a fictional place. I used to fantasize about what it would be like for it to be real. I would look at my house-- a large, two story, red bricked home, and dream about mice running around making things in mouse-sized ovens; about my mom screaming in horror at all the animals in her kitchen... okay, maybe not that. But I will never forget the beautiful picture of life it brought to my imagination. I still have a unexplainable liking for squirrels (my favorite animal in Redwall).

I am now an adult. I have a job (two, actually). I take courses on contract theory and political philosophy. Suit jackets are a large part of my wardrobe now. All of this is in stark contrast to my childhood thoughts of imaginary worlds. Or is it?

I desired so much to be a part of Redwall because it never seemed to have a dull moment. Young beasts (had to fish around for that word-- been so long since I've written an article here) exercised heroism and bravery to rescue the oppressed. Old ones fought with a tenacity and an appreciation for life. And yet, normal life does not involve rescuing damsels in distress, nor battling it out with swords and cutlasses. My life revolves around work (researching governmental policy) and school (writing papers, going to class, all the usual stuff most of you experience). Whoo-hoo. Hardly anything that wins me appreciation from the Abbo-- er, I mean, the President. Not heroic "I-would-take-a-bullet-for-you" stuff. I used to think: "If I were in Redwall, I would be happy, heroic and productive." (this while procrastinating over writing assignments). But then, Redwall doesn't revolve around the heroic. It revolves around the everyday life of Abbey-dwellers.

Right? Eh. Cornflower saved the Abbey by accident when Cluny tried the tower trick. Methuselah noticed the tree moving when Cluny tried the plank trick. Martin's invasion of Tsarmina's castle was only possible because of the long dedication and ingenuity of Timballisto. These plots failed or succeeded by small, split-second decisions made by individuals-- Tim was only able to construct the catapults because he had spent seasons before designing and building them. My cousin recently got married to someone she met via a mutual friend. My cousin was moving to Colorado in the near future, but she decided to go to a movie theater one last time with her friend. There she met her future husband. If she had not taken that choice, or who knows how many other choices, she would not be married today. The significance of small decisions cannot be overstated.

In the same way, while heroic actions are nice-- strike that-- are downright cool, it should be remembered that it's the normal, everyday activities that are the most important. In a way, performing consistently good work for work or school is more heroic than doing something that everyone looks at with astonishment. Which is harder; exercising another half-hour everyday or running up a burning flight of stairs to bring a baby down? Excercising-- one doesn't receive praise for that-- and yet, it makes the heroic action of firefighters possible. Just like Matthias was only able to find the sword because of the life-long academic dedication of Methuselah, the everyday tasks we tend to look down upon are not just necessary-- they should be darned cool.

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