When Fiction Invades our Language
I've recently noticed how often we use references from novels and films in our day-to-day conversation. Sometimes it is made-up words, like "muggle." Sometimes it is a phrase that takes on a new meaning because of the story plot, like "gas-lighting."
Often we talk about art imitating life and life imitating art. This is what happens when art is so good, or so popular, it becomes part of life.
This is not a new trend. Gas-lighting as a term for a type of psychological abuse comes from a 1938 play and subsequent film adaptation called "Gas Light." Some of our common expressions are actually quotes (or misquotes) from Shakespeare himself.
And which one of us hasn't used the phrase "I'll have what she's having" from When Harry Met Sally?
But here's what I find really interesting. There is a trend amongst spiritual people to use terms from fiction to describe their spiritual activities. For instance, a part time tarot reading might refer to her day job as her "muggle" job. Spiritual teachers sometimes refer to the lack of enlightenment amongst the masses as "The Matrix."
In a way, this is simply another example of how books and movies worm their way into our language. Sometimes it is helpful, because it creates a modern reference that the uninitiated can understand.
I have to admit I find it a bit disturbing, though, and here's why.
Healers, psychics and other alternative practitioners have a hard enough time maintaining credibility in an unenlightened world. Doesn't it make us seem less credible when our vocabulary comes from fantasy and sci-fi?
I wonder, too, if the professionals that choose to use these words might secretly question their gifts, their training and their path.
But here's something else to think about. Within fiction there is often great truth. Harry Potter teaches the power of love. The Matrix teaches the courage to seek truth. I find spiritual truths in Stephen King novels all the time.
I choose not to use phrases from fiction to describe my life, my work or my spiritual path because those things are facts, and fiction is, well, fiction.
But I do recognize the truths we all learn from stories, myths and movies, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t use those in my spiritual life and work.