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What is the Real World?

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Outside, the little kids in my neighborhood were playing ball and riding their bicycles; I could hear their jovial shouts as I, seated on the big flowery couch in the living room, turned the thick starchy pages of a book. It was the selected works of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was my childhood hero and solace throughout those awkward years of elementary school because she lived a most adventurous life. Despite the lack of electricity, Internet, and the radio back in her day, I found her life to be almost glamorous compared to mine.
Such freedom and fun the young Laura Ingalls had, gathering firewood before dinner and falling asleep by the fireplace to the sound of howling wolves at night. She walked to school barefoot through fields and creeks under the clear blue sky. Maybe if I could do the same, and carry my lunch in a silver pail, maybe then I wouldn’t have minded standard education as much as I did. I despised the learning environment and always felt a deep sense of irrational dread every morning when my father drove me to school. Not to mention that our family’s silver Honda disappointed me; it gave me carsickness, while I am sure riding in a covered wagon would not have made me sick at all.
Over the years, I’ve outgrown quaint stories of the 1800s, of fireplaces and farmhouses. My love for reading hasn’t changed at all over the years, though my taste in books has. I’ve discovered many more stories since those days of elementary school, and through the innumerable pages of my favorite novels, I’ve visited the past thirty years of Afghanistan, the 1960s of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and most recently, the rise and fall of second generation Tudor England. As fascinating as these places are, I no longer live solely in a fantasy world of other people’s stories; I had moved on to my life in what is usually called the Real World. A few years ago, those two simple words would have filled me with trepidation and self consciousness.
Today, I face the Real World with a newfound gratitude for the present and anticipation for every upcoming moment in the future. I’ve somehow found the balance between living my own story in the real world and reading someone else’s. However, I couldn’t have done it without the help of the one and only Laura Ingalls Wilder, my childhood author-hero.





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