Yesterday I went to see Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I was caught up in the story and the magic of childhood. What richness childhood holds for us – even as an adult. Last night I looked through countless photographs of my grandchildren remembering the childlike joy they have brought to my life. Somewhere in all the experiences I felt I had somehow lost the memories of my own childhood.
Funny how the mind works. We really do not forget. We compartmentalize. We package things away just in case we need them again someday. What to do?
I opened the closet door of my mind and looked over my packages. Some were wrapped in whimsical paper. Some were tied up with big beautiful ribbons. Some were wrapped in brown paper and sealed with brown masking tape. Some were labeled but the words were smeared with what might have been teardrops. Such a myriad of ‘stuff’. Why had I taken such care in wrapping them? Why had some been opened ane re-wrapped and others pushed to the back of the closet? Was I hiding or protecting?
In a moment of sheer bravery, I reached in and pulled out one that was wrapped in bright colored paper. Inside I saw myself walking on stilts my grandfather had crafted out of old rough hewn 1 x 2’s. I was so excited as I walked fearlessly from my newfound vantage point. Obviously a day I wanted to remember.
Then I picked one at the bottom. Dusty. Carefully wrapped in plain black paper with a heart on top. Inside I saw myself weeping as my grandmother told me my cat Midnight was dead. The neighbor next door had siced his dog on my cat. She was injured so badly they had to put her to sleep. I remember the sound of my grandmother’s voice as she cried. She did not care for cats, but I knew she was heartbroken for me and for the decision she had to make.
I love my inner child. She was shy and awkward, but full of love. She wasn’t afraid to be alone and wishes sometimes that she had spent more time with others than by herself. But she’s okay with her decisions.
I am blessed that I had a childhood free from abuse. I had some sad memories, but I also had a balance of laughter and joy. I want to remember it all, for it helped craft who I am today. But more than anything, I want to remember the feeling of being childlike. I still have those emotions and abilities to be carefree if I just open a few packages along the way. The beauty is that I can choose how and when I remember.
I encourage you to open a brightly packaged gift today and let that inner child live again. He or she may have some beautiful adventures to take you on. After all, you don’t want to lose your ‘muchness’ do you? (Yes, you must go see Alice in Wonderland.)
“When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?”