I can say things in a fairy tale that I could never say in another form. I can revolutionize insects far easier than civilians. I can write for the future, state radical thoughts unhindered by concerns of whether society will accept them or not.
I can state truths that people would normally feel threatened by, and empower those who wish to make the world a better place by creating a tapestry of possibility and change through the power of imagination and the ability to dream.
I began writing fairy tales after cycling around Iceland, long known for its literary traditions in 1988. The first story I wrote told the tale of an army of ants who were invading a scientists garden to eat a beautiful object that appeared in all it's aspects to be a miniature earth. This gorgeous entity had the same attraction to ants as an ice cream to a child and because of this they threatened to gobble up this most beautiful thing in their haste to absorb its goodness. The scientist realised that in order to protect the most beautiful thing he needed to communicate with the ants in order to preserve it's beauty and the best way to do that was through a story, a fairy tale so beautiful that the ants would become defenders rather than the destroyers of this most beautiful thing.
The search for the story the scientist would tell to ants led me to lead a 700 kilometer balsa raft expedition through the Amazon in 1989, where I intended to find the characters and the experiences to create a fairy tale that would explain the beauty of the earth through the abundance of a glorious rainforest and how that forest could be saved. Thus, the first fairy tale I wrote came to life. I placed this add in 'Now' a Toronto magazine popular with a students and a younger crowd.
The add was a shot in the dark. A call for people to let thier imagination go wild. I figured they were either going to think I was crazy or were going to go for it. Either way, the ad would get noticed. I was amazed by the response. People's imagination did go wild and I got twenty-five phone calls in two days, ranging from a seventy year old lady offering to cook, to a seventeen year old girl who asked me to convince her parents to let her go!
Two months later the expedition team was in the Amazon, building rafts with the indigenous people. Four young men and women, including the journalist the magazine sent to interview me about the strange add I had placed!
One day as the forest drifted slowly by I watched an ant fall from our balsa raft into the river. Caught in a tiny whirlpool I watched the tiny ant spin around until I realised that it would surely die and plucked it safely from the river and put it back on the raft.
This simple act of saving a life inspired within me the story of 'Salvadoro The Ant' the smallest of ants who goes on the greatest of journeys to save the rainforest and the community of lifeformas that we all need to exist.
Six months after the expedition I read 'Salvadoro The Ant' to over a 100,000 people on April 22nd outside Toronto city hall for the start of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of Earth Day.
Fairy tales can be very powerful especially when they connect to real life and enter the realms of magic.