My neighbor and I barely see each other. We literally can’t see each other because her house sits on the hill behind mine and is obscured by the forest between us. Acres of land surround all the houses in the area where I live. About once a month we wave from our mailboxes and shout, “Hey, how are you?” If our schedules allow, we’ll tromp across the wetlands to swap a quick list of the highs and lows in our lives. Ships passing in the night have more frequent encounters.

We often disagree about what qualifies as a “worth it” movie or book and actors like Eddy Redmayne— who she would never dream of kicking out of bed for eating crackers, whereas I’d make sure he slept in the guest room. But no matter how many things we disagree about, I know she’s my friend. One of the most devoted friends I’ve ever had. Of this, I am certain because of the birthday card she sent me this year.

A friend recently told me I was delusional. I almost fell off my unicorn.

The birthday greeting on the inside finishes with, Call me crazy but I think you’re AWESOME. Cute, but what sent my funny bone into hysterics was what she wrote above the greeting.

I’m starting to think I AM Delusional— Have I made you up? I hope not. Let me know when we can get together.

Once the laughter subsided enough for me to talk I rang her up, told her about my revision, and said as soon as I sent the manuscript off, I’d reach out and we could plan my birthday lunch. Yeppir, we only see each other twice a year. In January for her birthday and in August for mine. We always make noise about getting together in between, but we never get around to it. The reason we don’t— my writing. I can’t break away because, as I mentioned last week, Kaitlyn’s story is the great work of my life. Until it’s finished everything else in life comes in second.

And my neighbor gets that about me. “I don’t take your absences personally,” she said when I apologized for not making more of an effort to connect. “I miss you, but I know how important your writing is to you. I admire your discipline.” One of the most devoted friends I’ve ever had.

Ever since my birthday lunch, I’ve been thinking of how grateful I am to have supportive friends and family, but even more grateful for my creative life. I don’t know how I’d be coping with the cruelty and unrest in this country, if I didn’t have a world of delusions to escape into. My writing is the reason I’m still breathing, still writing to you, and doing what I can to help this planet heal.

The ugliness of the world cannot be ignored. Action must be taken to turn the ugly upside down and inside out, so love and peace actually become the standard by which we live. I hope we all take the little steps to make the big steps happen. I also pray everyone on the planet finds a little time to escape into another world. The ugliness of the world must not be ignored. But sometimes reality leads us to forget about hope. Delusional or magical worlds, whether they come in books, films or daydreams, provide a passageway back to hope.