.. .once having tasted the lips of excellence, once having give oneself to its perfection, how dreary and burdensome and filled with anomie are the remainder of one's waking hours trapped in the shackled lock-step of the merely ordinary, the barely acceptable, the just okay and not a stroke better. Sadly, most lives are fashioned on that pattern. settling-for what is possible; buying into the cliche because the towering dream is out of stock.... Harlan Ellison, Introduction, The Sandman: Season of Mists
Before their Chrysalises, changelings hover in a half-reality, seeing the world as others do, but touched by flashes of otherness. They experience momentary visions of chimerical reality without understanding what they see, or hear strangely compelling sounds without recognizing their origins. Sometimes it is a smell or taste or even a tactile difference that is incongruous with what is experienced by everyone around them. Children, too young to know that these alterations are not normal occurrences, simply accept them. Teens and adults, more rooted in the "real" world, often dismiss these experiences as hallucinations, frequently denying the occurrences so they won't be labeled as "weirdos." Some respond to the stimuli that "isn't there" and end up in counseling or a psychiatric ward. But what they experience is real for changelings.
This illusionary fantasy world is called chimerical because unenchanted mortals cannot normally experience it. Although they occupy mortal flesh in order to stave off Banality, changelings' true selves lie within their fragile, englamoured souls. As changelings, they see the world around them from within a chimerical shell. The whole world has a chimerical reality for the fae. They do not shift viewpoints back and forth from the banality to the chimerical, seeing first a street with broken pavement and sagging storefronts, then changing with a blink to a vision of a golden avenue lined with palaces. Instead they normally see the true magic anima that exists within every object, place and person. They pick out the inherent nature of persons, places and things, weaving those perceptions into a greater whole.Thus they do not see the tattered old book of fairy tales with the torn cover, but the warmth and pleasure countless children have derived from reading it. Each child has left some imprint on the book, some tiny spark of imagination or inspiration that the book evoked for her. Changelings see and revel in that residue, which may cause the book to appear new and crisp, with freshly painted colors. Likewise, they may smell luscious strawberries on an "empty" plate, feel the weight of velvet on what looks like school uniform, and dance to a symphony played on crickets' legs.