Read Neverwhere, written by Neil Gaiman, is certainly one of the strangest experiences you can have. The humor mixes with the beautiful descriptions and all the mythology that Gaiman created to bring you the feeling of reading a sort of modern Alice in Wonderland. And after finishing reading this book for the second time, the vision I had before was only confirmed: Neverwhere is about creativity and loneliness.
The story follows Richard Mayhew, who as the protagonist of Fight Club, leads a life shaped by conformism until he finds someone who will take him through a journey of transformation. The person, in this case, is Door, a girl whom Richard finds bleeding and decides to help. Door eventually becomes Richard’s passage to London Below, a place where all the notion of reality he had is lost. More than that, Richard becomes invisible to all those in London Above and finds himself obliged to accept the magic of his new world.
While Richard helps Door find the murderers of her family, however, his first reaction is to miss his previous world, where everything was predictable and he had a girlfriend and a monotonous job. And, more importantly, Richard’s world had no magic and all the dangers of the unknown. Wasn’t he crazy now that he could see London like that? Wouldn’t it be a curse to become invisible to everyone and live in a magical world? Wouldn’t it be better to just live life as everyone tells you to live, marry, go to bars once in a while and buy a home?
Richard needs to leave behind all that he believed and accept London Below as his new reality. And it is after doing this and helping Door find the murderer of her family that his own personality transforms. When Richard returns to London Above, he becomes the junior partner of his company, gets a better apartment and becomes an active person. However, this reality is no longer enough for him and he eventually returns to London Below, deciding that its madness, in the end, is better than the life that everyone says you should have.
Like I said, this is a book about creativity and loneliness. Loneliness, of course, can be expressed by the fact that Richard becomes invisible to everyone, while creativity can be expressed by the fact that he can see a magical London that no one else can see. And it is the fact that he can see this London (creativity) that distances him from the world around him.
This is certainly a very common thing in our world, where creativity becomes a curse and a path to loneliness. It’s difficult for a creative person to share with other people what they see in their mind and thus create the necessary identification to form bonds with someone. More than that, creative people are not usually taken seriously with their supposedly crazy ideas, which makes it even harder for them to share their thoughts.
I’m not saying that creative people are special snowflakes, but I’m saying that their ability to see what no one else sees can lead them down a tortuous path. In fact, creative people are only taken seriously when their ideas reach a certain success, which doesn’t always happen. And a creative person who fails with their ideas is doomed to live in a terrible prison where they will forever be invisible, unless, of course, they give up on their ideas and succumbs to the ordinary life that everyone says they should have (which is certainly a very sad way of thinking about things).
How could a creative person attain satisfaction?
In the first place, this person should accept the solitary and difficult path of creativity, just as Richard accepts London Below. You shouldn’t let yourself be trapped by the expectations of other people around you who try to tell you how you should live your life because they simply can not see the world as you can. Only you know of your own reality, of the things you have in mind and of where you can get. Denying your creativity because of third-party opinion can bring an emptiness even worse than the pain of failure. Denying your creativity, the reality that you see in your mind, is like accepting death in life.
So if you have an idea, work on it. Work on it as much as you can. This may mean becoming invisible to everyone else and fighting difficult battles that no one would imagine, but embrace that and continue to believe your ideas. Immerse yourself in your creativity and see the world through these wonderful lenses that only you can see. Enter the passage that will take you into a world beyond the monotony to which people seem to want to pull you.
If you can survive the pain of loneliness and keep working on your idea with all the worst odds against you, then maybe one day you’ll succeed, just like Richard does at the end of Neverwhere. Your madness and your magical world can be the key to success in the real world, giving you the incredible life you’ve always dreamed of.
And if you get there and think that continuing to dive into your creativity is better than simply accepting the common world, fine.
London Below will always be waiting for you.
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