"Follow your dreams." It's such a common phrase. It sounds reasonable enough, but people probably don't usually mean it literally. That's how it started for me, though, with a random dream I had one night. It wasn’t an especially interesting dream, to be honest, but one part really stuck in my mind. I’d been traveling somewhere, or looking for something--you know how dreams are--and before I knew it, I was there. Just one of those things that you don’t question at the time, when your mind is too busy following its own path to care about the normal rules of cause and effect, like having to actually travel to a place to get there. Like I said, that’s just how dreams are.
Once I woke up, the bulk of the dream faded away, as dreams tend to do, but that one odd little bit of dream logic really struck me, as I lay in my bed. To be so intent on a destination that the space in between might as well not even exist--it was an interesting thought, but I wasn’t sure where I was going with it.
So, naturally, that train of thought jumped its track soon enough, and I found myself pondering a particular pink party pony’s peculiarities. Might that be how Pinkie Pie manages to do the unusual things she does? Don’t worry about the minor details of whether or not something is physically possible, just jump straight to your outcome and let the laws of nature sort themselves out after the fact? She certainly doesn’t seem overly concerned with whether or not something can happen before she makes it happen. So often, words like “impossible” or “gravity” are mere afterthoughts to her.
Now, maybe it’s because I’d only just woken up, so I suppose my mind may have been a touch less... grounded in reality than usual, but I decided to roll with the idea, even if it made no sense outside of dream logic. That’s the whole nature of the concept, right? Who cares if it’s possible, let’s just do it. Doubt, analysis, rationality? Maybe some other time. For the moment, at least, I was going to just dive in, Pinkie Pie style.
Leaving no time for hesitation, I untangled myself from my blankets and jumped out of bed. The instant my feet hit the floor, I hurried out of my bedroom and headed to the front door, not pausing to consider if I really ought to be running around outside in just the clothes I slept in. I didn’t bother with shoes either, just opened the door and stepped out. No distractions, no pausing to worry about shutting and locking the door, I practically threw myself down the stairs, then kept on walking.
Where was I going? Well, I’m sure that’s obvious by now, but like so many other pony fans, I long would have considered it a dream come true to find myself in Equestria. It’s not as though my life was so terrible or anything--family, a pretty good group of friends, a decent enough job--but I’d never quite felt like I really belonged anywhere, and the allure of the ponies’ world was so inviting for so many reasons that I’m not going to go into right now. The point is, I knew where I wanted to be, so now I simply needed to get there. And now I finally had a plan for how to do it. Or rather the complete and utter absence of a plan. Don’t even think about how to get there, just keep moving until I’m there.
As I quickly walked away from my home, in a random direction, I didn’t want to put too much thought into how I was going to do this, but I couldn’t help but realize that everything around me was too much of a distraction. How was I going to skip the journey if I was watching my every step? So I closed my eyes, tuned out the sounds around me, and kept moving. It’s a lucky thing there weren’t any cars around, because getting run over probably also would have been slightly distracting.
So I walked. I turned my thoughts completely inward and began to picture everything I loved about the magical place I wanted to be. I imagined the ponies I’d grown so attached to, and the places they’d been. I could see Twilight Sparkle practicing a spell outside her treehouse library, with Spike assisting her, inattentive though he was as Rarity approached them. I saw Rainbow Dash flying through the sky above Cloudsdale, performing impressive aerial maneuvers. Fluttershy with her animal friends, of course, at her cottage by the edge of the Everfree Forest, and Applejack, where else but Sweet Apple Acres? Then Pinkie Pie... well, she seemed to pop up everywhere, almost by her own will. I envisioned all these scenes and so many more, as my feet carried me onward without my conscious thought.
I have no idea how long I continued this way, but eventually I felt this sudden urge to reach out my arms to push against the door that I somehow knew stood before me. Two doors, as it turned out, split vertically down the middle. They were heavy and didn’t want to budge, but I leaned into it and pushed until they started to move. Once the doorway was open enough for me to pass through, I took those last few steps forward and raised my head back up, finally opening my eyes again to see the world around me.
Success. It had actually worked. The moment my eyes adjusted to the brightness around me, I knew I was in a very different place than where I’d started. Equestria.
The entire time I was walking, I hadn’t allowed myself a single thought to consider any other outcome, but now that I was here, I could hardly believe it was real. I felt like I was back in a dream again, and if I thought about it for too long, I’d wake up. I couldn’t have that; this had to be real. I didn’t want to risk what might happen if I looked back to the doorway, feeling as though the merest glimpse of where I’d come from would pull me back though, so I pushed the doors closed again without looking at them, then simply continued onward, at a much slower pace this time.
I had arrived at the edge of a forest, atop a seemingly ancient, circular stone landing with three staircases. The stones were worn and fractured by time, but I could still at least make out the inlay of a large blazing sun stretched out below me. I almost felt guilty walking across it, but the world beyond demanded my attention. My mouth must have been hanging open as I took in the sights of everything around me. Beautiful, incredible… I couldn’t think of any words strong enough to express the emotions I felt from what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, of this new world, and I still can’t do justice to describing it. The cartoon was such a simplification. Equestria was everything I’d ever imagined it would be, and more, and I’d only just arrived.
The middle staircase ahead of me led into the forest. Even at just the edge, I could see amazing, lush vegetation that looked so full of life that it seemed almost ready to jump out of the ground and run away. There were trees that looked old enough to remember when the stones I was standing on first formed in the ground, and fruit that looked like one bite would surpass any meal I’d ever tasted.
To the left, that staircase stopped just before reaching a high cliff ledge. What lay below was out of sight from where I stood, but even the sky above was so blue, it felt as though I was only just seeing the color for the very first time in my life. And what clouds were in the sky looked so fluffy and inviting, I could understand how a pegasus might never want to come down to the ground. There was even a phoenix, with flames trailing behind it, flying in the distance, and far beyond that looked like what must have been a cloud city floating in the air.
The third staircase, to the right, led toward more ancient ruins scattered throughout fields of knee-high grasses and occasional trees, with beautiful birds fluttering around, singing songs that sounded like they’d been written by a composer. I smiled as I wondered if perhaps Fluttershy had taught them.
With a peaceful smile, I closed my eyes to absorb the amazing warmth of the sunlight washing over me. Even the very ground beneath my feet felt almost alive, seeming to hum with a subtle vigor, and the air was permeated with an indescribable energy that gave me the sensation of being almost weightless. The simple act of breathing felt magical, and time seemed to lose all meaning during this invigorating moment. Listening to the gentle breeze and birdsongs, I felt a lifetime’s worth of accumulated tension melt away from my body. I was finally home.
Of course, even a perfect moment eventually gives way to the next, and I decided it was time to move beyond the threshold and start to explore this world in earnest. I guessed that the best place to begin was with the ruins to the right. They may have been ancient, but perhaps I could find some clue about where in Equestria I was exactly.
I made my way in that direction and descended the stairs, pausing briefly here and there to look at the old stonework, as well as a huge broken chain link on one of the steps, the curved metal a good three inches thick. Even the garbage here was impressive. Moving on, I made my way to the nearest building, then examined it from the outside. As old as it was, it looked to be sturdy enough to be safe to enter, so I turned the corner to find the entrance.
Taking a couple steps through the doorway, it was relatively dark inside, so I closed my eyes for a minute to give them a chance to adjust, listening to the world around me again. As I was about to open my eyes once more to explore the interior of this structure, my ears picked up the hint a new sound in the distance. As I listened closely, I realized it was coming closer, and that it had the distinct impression of being a voice, although it was too distant to allow me to discern the words, or if they were even a language I could understand.
Knowing that, as amazing as this world was, not all the creatures in it would necessarily be friendly to someone like me, I cautiously stepped back outside to figure out where the voice was coming from. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was back where I’d first come through the doorway, so I slowly peeked around the corner of the building to see if I could spot whoever was speaking.
Right way I noticed what looked to be a dark blue strip waving around slightly, with a pink stripe and purple stripe running down the length. Twilight Sparkle’s tail? Could it really be that easy? I poked my head farther out, just enough to see that, yes, it really was Twilight Sparkle. And she was so little and cute, I could barely think straight. To think this day could get any more incredible, I couldn’t believe my luck. Then I paused briefly as I realized she was missing her wings. So that must mean I had arrived, well, some time before the end of season three. That was useful information to have, but the more urgent matter was to figure out how best to approach her and introduce myself without causing any alarm.
Unfortunately, before I could settle on anything, she apparently finished whatever her task was in the area, and began trotting down the staircase that led into the forest, back the way she’d come from, I supposed. It would be far too easy to lose her in there, and I couldn’t let her get away without at least figuring out where I was, so I abandoned all hesitation and ran out to try to catch up with her. The long grass slowed my sprint slightly as I kept my eyes focused on Twilight, but I could tell I was catching up enough that I could at least grab her attention with a shout for her to wait, and hope she understood it was non-threatening. As I was just about to yell, however, I suddenly found myself sprawling face first into the grass, before I even knew what happened.
Sparing only a moment to see what had tripped me, I found more of those chain links I had seen earlier hidden in the grass, this time still connected together in a long stretch. I couldn’t waste time wondering what they were doing there, though, and scrambled to my feet to make up for lost time. As I finished righting myself, I noticed a new sound coming from my left, something else moving through the same grass I was in. Turning in that direction, thinking perhaps Fluttershy or one of Twilight’s other friends was in the area with her, my sights instead fell upon the horrifying form of a three-headed canine monstrosity barreling toward me.
And with that, my new life in Equestria came to an end.