Discovering Authenticity in Fiction

“There are things that I canna tell you, at least not yet. And I’ll ask nothing of ye that ye canna give me. But what I would ask of ye—when you do tell me something, let it be the truth. And I’ll promise ye the same. We have nothing now between us, save—respect, perhaps. And I think that respect has maybe room for secrets, but not for lies. Do ye agree?”
-Jamie Fraser, Outlander

As I watch the long anticipated (25+ years) made for TV series once again in 2019, my heart is filled to overflowing contentment with the passion and deep heart connection displayed on the screen.  After 30 years of enchantment with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the mystery of why the story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Randle continues to draw me into its adventure turns like and old pebble in my mind.

Fresh into my 20’s, trying to keep up a brave front after everything I believed to be true about myself had been decimated, the one thing that still brought me comfort and escape was reading.  Reading had enabled me to lose myself in other worlds from early childhood.  The pleasure of blocking out the day to day drama of home life had me labelled a bookworm early on.  My favourite was the fantasy/adventure genre available to me in Central Canada in the 1970’s.  Travelling with Dr. Doolittle and his talking animals on their voyages over land and sea planted the seeds of travelling for adventure.  Susan Pevensie and her siblings in The Chronicles of Narnia opened my mind to time travel and its endless mysteries.   Alec Ramsay and The Black in The Black Stallion series instilled the awareness and desire for the deep bond that is possible between a human and a wild animal unable to defend itself from human predators.  Characters pure of heart and mind caught up in larger than life dramas.

Feeling lost and alone, life was a series of ugly truths replacing former religious fairytales.  The book series that had entertained me in childhood had lost their luster.  Having given up on finding any joy for myself, I was dedicated to supporting my ill mother and younger siblings.  Ease their suffering. 

I was ripe for a new fantasy reality.

It was 1992.  Noticing a new, unfamiliar book series being passed around the staffroom by my new job co-workers, I found myself recognizing the silence of lifelong readers’ intent on living vicariously through enchanting characters on the page.  I had discovered the Outlander series.  Thick, juicy and fast paced…the early novels by Diana Gabaldon were gobbled up like the home made Friday night popcorn I used to enjoy in front the latest Walt Disney movie.

Perhaps the setting was a simpler time in human history, perhaps it is the burden of our heroine, Claire Randal, of blending into two distinct realities, something about everything this series offers had me hooked from day one.

The authentic truth, purity of the raw emotion and dignity that are displayed by the central characters are entirely unmatched in any aspect of my life experience to date.  To me this is the heart of the endurance of Diana Gabaldon’s contribution to the “Historical Fiction” genre of literature.  Authentic truth of human desire, fear and conflict is a timeless theme in the human experience.  The longing for this depth of expression has dominated my psyche for 50 decades.

Managing the circumstances that befall a person with grace and dignity is a pursuit modelled time and again within this series of adventures.  Such a courageous depiction of human potential.  Rising to my purest potential is a deep desire that for me at least, requires a role model far, far beyond the teachings and demands of the people that surrounded me in my formative years.  A beacon of light, yes.  When reminded of the collective efforts of society that prefer the distractions of the mundane over the purity of raw heart connection, this series grounds me back into my commitment to my truth of authentic self-expression.  I find what I am looking for here every time life circumstances leave me frustrated with the greed, competition and false fronts openly displayed by those I consider possessing small minds.

I am pleased to share a unique perspective on what is possible if only in a story that provides a role model on moving through challenges and opportunities with grace and dignity.  Yes, mistakes are made, but the characters highlighted in the Outlander series are written as authentic human beings, living from a heart of love and support for each other.  As I partake of this experience 30 years after my original reading, the clarity of why I keep returning to this series is finally revealed:

Truth, Honesty and Love.

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