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“A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around . . . The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible.” - Taylor Swift 2020

I’ve always been captivated by stories. Just walking down the sidewalk, my imagination can run wild with plotlines that twist and turn with the direction of the pavement. My childhood journals are filled with short stories where reality intertwines with elements of fantasy; now, sprinkled between to-do lists in the Notes app on my phone, short character studies and imaginative narratives glow like curious whispers.

In the past several months, that sprinkling has become more bountiful. The heaviness of disappointment accompanied by lingering stress and sadness lines the backdrop of so many of our worlds right now. I’ve found that in leaning into my imagination, I’ve held onto the wonder of the small, often overlooked moments of daily life during a global pandemic in a nation teeming with inequity, all wrapped up in a divide that is rooted in ignorance and selfishness.

Taylor Swift’s newest albums, Folklore and Evermore embody all that is whimsical and fantastical. The songs welcome the stretches of our imaginations, honoring the power of storytelling. With the release of these albums, I’ve felt called, more than ever, to share the impact that my ‘imaginative realism’ musings have had on me in the midst of such a difficult year. To notice fleeting moments of humanity is to acknowledge that flickers of hope remain - and taking the time to appreciate that beauty through a plotline is a way I’ve managed to maintain the wonder of life. 

 

a man idly walks along the narrow, cracked sidewalk as a rare december sun beams through my open sunroof. my mind wanders to the coffee shop just down the block; I continue driving toward the familiar spot. passing by the man, the music from my car radio flows out the open windows, dancing alongside rays of sunshine and cool breaths of gentle breeze. the man stops. the sounds reach his ears and his spirit changes. he feels light, inspired, free. what once was a trudge is now a vibrant stroll. continuing along, the man never forgets the tune he heard on that sunny december day. sipping my latte, i always remember the stranger’s change of pace in step with the music from my car. 

 

For just a moment, as I drove myself to a solo coffee-and-study date in the midst of finals season, my life was intertwined with that of a complete stranger, tied together by a song. Did that moment have the same profound effect on the man’s life that I’d imagined? In reality, the story I pictured may have been, or it may not have been. But that’s the beauty of wonder. Weaving imagination into reality is not ignoring actuality. It’s merely seeking out life’s most special details, cherishing the enchantment of being alive.

So next time Invisible String or Long Story Short plays in the background, allow Taylor’s storytelling to inspire you to write your own stories. After all, the tale of 2020 is one to be “passed down and whispered around.” Just remember, within our own imagination is where the magic lies.

Kayla is a sophomore at Michigan State University majoring in both Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS) and Journalism in the Honors College. This is her second year writing for Her Campus. Half of her free time is spent enjoying the outdoors in any way possible (especially running, biking, and hiking). The other half is spent in coffee shops or in her kitchen experimenting with different recipes. Follow her on Instagram @kaylanelsen_
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