When I was growing up, I was raised on the complex stories of science fiction. Many people laugh when I tell them this, and look at my father oddly for reading me the classics of his beloved genre instead of more age-appropriate tales of lost pets, teen friendship and budding love. I grew up on those stories too; I read those myself, but the stories that made a lasting impression were the stories my father read me. The stories of starship captains blazing into the fray, of planets colliding, and of loss. Many sciencw fictions stories feature loss in some way.

I have found as I got older that these stories spoiled me for the traditional classics I was forced to suffer through, especially in highschool. The Great Gatsby, for example, was such a bore to me that I barely managed to get through the assignment with a passing grade. Same with Jane Eyre. I am sure they are special stories to someone, but to me--who was used to the wide range of events and emotions Sci-Fi offered me--they were boring and one-dimentional. Even now, I would much rather get lost in my dusty copy of Dune than and of the traditional classics.

Yet, I have a fondness for literature, or better said, for stories. I thrive when reading books filled with complex characters and interwoven storylines which come together like a skillfully woven tapestry. I am in awe of the abilities of writers--be they authors, poets, songwriters, or those who pursue lighter arts like comic books and fan-fiction. A good piece of fan-fiction can brighten my world, as can a song with lyrics that pierce my heart, or the words of Emily Dickenson. I pass no judgement on the medium, especially not when the work can satisfy my hunger for compex human emotion and connection.

My father gifted me with my first ethical framework in the form of a comic: Yoko Tsuno, the adventures of a female electrical engineer of Japanese origin who puts friendship and family before anything else, who refused to lie in any circumstance and who would never betray her ethics. There is a lot of her in me, still. Over the years, others have joined Yoko in my heart and mind; real people, but many more creations by a brilliant mind. I can identify many of my character traits, features and ethics by way of books or specific characters.

When I found religion, and the stories connected to it, I found a new world of rich wonder. While many stories from mythology seem one-dimentional, they were written to convey much more than their outer layer--in every myth is an ideal, an ethical lesson, a word of wisdom to add to the ever-expanding personality of a human being. This is why I love mythology so very, very much. This is also why I take myths literally, at least within the framework of their culture of origin. In this way, the Gods I revere never run the risk of becoming one-dimentional to me: They are part of my persona, linked to my ethical framework, my emotions and my intellect in a way that cannot be unbound. In a difficult situation, I can draw strength from my Gods, because I know Their stories. I know they would see me as controlled and mindful, and I turn to Their stories as well as the other influencers in my life to see how I should be that person.

For those wondering if I equate the Gods and comic book characters in my mind, please, rest assured. It is a different kind of influence the Gods have on me, as Their will and--usually gentile--hand has an active influnce in my life, not a passive one like the array of creations that is so close to my heart. That said, Their stories inspire me in the same way to do better, be more, try harder. Mythology shows me the lives of the Gods and while I realize there is much more to Them than Their stories, Their stories touch me profoundly.

Hellenic mythology is brimming with complex (human) emotions and interactions, filled with the best ethical framework one could possibly hope to aquire. They are gentile teaching tools and stories of eternal wonder. When I read mythology--or better yet, when I tell the stories myself--I feel closer to my Gods than at any other time.

I plan to read my children--if I ever have them--science fiction as a bedtime story. I will read them everything my father read me and pass to them my copies of Yoko Tsuno, like my father did with me, in hopes that they become as inspired by the world and life as I became. But I will also tell them the myths of the Gods, and help them grasp the complexities that are hidden in the decievingly simple tales. I will gift them what my father gifted me, and I will gift them beyond that. And so we learn, and pass our legacy through the ages.

I would be honored if my children thought of me years after I stopped reading to them whenever they picked up a book we read together, or a comic I gifted them. I hope they will think of me fondly when they hear the names of the Gods, be they believers of not. I hope I can make them aware how deep the well of mythology really is. And if I never have kids, I hope I get to gift this gift to students, readers, co-religionalists. Or all of them. I was raised on science fiction; I am not afraid to dream big.