Serendipity, really, that the links below should appear so close together. First, Meg Sorick’s post on drawing toys and childhood memories. Some of us can draw (well done, Meg, congratulations). Others can’t, and must take a line for a walk, or must color or crayon or live with their black and white memories. Yet we never forget these early comforters, these early friends.
Traumatic, sometimes, the separation of us from our childhood beloveds and then the substitution of wool and cotton, of Teddy and struggle from the flesh and blood that never quite fulfilled the hollowness within us.
“Grow up,” the grown ups said. And offered us a world of cynicism and misery.
I remember when I asked the priest (I was about 4 years old at the time) if I would see my dead dog when I got to heaven. He told me that dogs didn’t have souls and I’d never see him him again. Tough luck. I was lucky. The dog wasn’t. Apparently that particular priest had never heard of the Rainbow Bridge.
‘You must grow up,’ he said.
“If that’s your reality,’ I said, echoing the words of Atahualpa, ruler of the Incas, “I don’t want to go to your heaven, and I don’t want to grow up. Ever.”
“So what will you do, who will you be?”
“I’ll be Peter Pan,” I said. I think I was four, but I might have been five.
At an international conference, a few years ago, while I was still recognized, before the age of 65, as a real, productive human being, a young lady, hearing my strange, outlandish accent, asked me “Where did you grow up?” “I don’t think I have,” I replied.
Why do we have to grow up? Picasso said that he had spent most of his adult life learning to see the world once more through the eyes of a child. And why ever not? Metaphors, beliefs, myths, acceptance, understanding, friendship, openness, willingness to learn … things that are gradually worn away as hierarchy, authority, obedience, socialization are taught to us by those who think know best.
Are these the ones who also brought us so many things that are wrong with our world? The inability to think for ourselves, fear of authority, the need to fit in and be accepted, fear of the mob, the crowd, of those who believe in what they are told to believe. The fear of the other. The need to destroy that which we don’t understand.
Advertisements? I love them and sing them all day long. Tee-shirts with slogans? Wonderful. I wear them and show them proudly to my friends. Sound bytes? I never question them and I circulate them to my friends. For ‘whether I think for myself or no, I’m sure is only touch and go’. You may or may not recognize the poet, but I do. I was born less than a mile down the road from him. You’ve probably never heard of him, but I have.
Accept my poet-neighbor and reject what modern society throws at me? It’s a difficult choice, isn’t it? How do we choose and why? What do we think and why do we think it? Or do we just follow the mob, the herd instinct, the sheep?
“If there were five sheep in the field, and one got out, how many would be left? Mary.”
“What do you mean, none? What’s one from five, Mary.”
Mary was the local farmer’s daughter. She didn’t think like that.
“No, miss,” said Mary. ” Sheep don’t think like that. If one got out the field, the rest would follow. There’d be none left.”
Terrible mathematics. Wonderful sheep psychology. A young creative mind thrown on the rubbish heap of ‘true’ knowledge at five years of age. Dismissed as an ignorant fool. What a pity.
And what’s wrong with Teddy Bears and childhood toys? I love them. I still have my daughter’s Paddington Bear beside my bed. Yellow Sou’wester, yellow welligogs, for those who know what they are. Here’s Meg Sorick’s take on my folly:
Who is Meg Sorick? In my own mind, she is a bright, intelligent human being, who looks upon our ageing and cynical world with childhood in her mind, and intelligence in her paint-brush and her pen.
As for the real world? What’s it all about, Alfie, Bertie, Cecily, Dewi?
Living in my own world, with a creative Joey in my Kangaroo pouch, not really Roger the Ripper Roo, I honestly don’t know. A Marsupalian view of the universe? Why ever not? If you can believe in the koala, and the marsupials, and the kookaburra, and the platypus duck, you can believe in anything. Read the linked article below about childhood teddies … if you dare … I did … many won’t.