Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding the Second Star to the Right

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.” 
 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince (probably my favorite book of all time)

During the summers I work at a children’s theatre camp. All day I get to do arts and crafts with children between the ages of 5 and 12. Sure, sometimes this job feels like I am being punished for some crime I don’t remember committing. Sure, some of these children make me question why people choose to reproduce. But most of the time I go to work and look at these children in awe. Everyday I am amazed by the innocence, hope, and joy that I see in their eyes. They, especially the younger ones, see adventures in everything. Every step is a journey across lands, every new task is a dragon to be killed, and every gift is a treasure chest. They look at everything in wide-eyed wonder, are curious about everything, and seem to be fearless. And they don’t seem to question anything. If something seems like magic, it is magic. They may be young, but in many ways they are wiser than any adult I’ve ever met.

The saddest thing to me is the day when I see these kids start to lose their childishness. When they start to be self-conscience, worried, and afraid. When they start to think of things as “stupid”. Like, “oh that idea was stupid” or “my drawing is stupid” or “I won’t play that game, it’s stupid”. When I see that, it breaks my heart because it means that their minds are beginning to close. They have lost the way to Neverland. No longer will flowers look like fairies’ beds or tables look like castles. What’s even sadder is that this process is inevitable, for we all must grow up (except of course, Peter Pan).

However, while growing older is inevitable, it is not necessary to lose sight of being a child. Some days it is important to recall the innocence and wide-eyed curiosity that was natural in the days of youth. Sometimes things get too serious or too overwhelming and we tend to then turn into grumpy old men (or women…). But really those are the times when it is most important to take a step back in time and remember the five year old that is still within us all.

It is important to skip down the street sometimes, even if people stare. Or to spend an hour reading children’s stories in the library or to go to a garden and look for fairies. Doing these childlike things lighten our hearts and return us to a land of hope and delivers us from the Mordor that adulthood can be. 

There is nothing that scares me more than losing sight of my youth and becoming an Ebenezer Scrooge (except perhaps the texture of lots of tiny holes, that freaks me out). I want to forever and ever be able to see fairies, to fight dragons, to imagine that I am a princess, and never forget the way to Neverland. While I may seem like a crazy person, I think of this as my way of staying sane. You can’t catch me and make me a grown up!

And it is for that reason that today I am wearing a dress covered in illustrations from childhood bedtime stories.

 “There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”
L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

So please my friends, I implore you, don’t try too hard to be grown up, for if you do you will lose sight of so many important things in life. Promise me that you won’t get lost in the world of numbers, stress, and frowns and will spend at least a little time going on an adventure with your imagination.

If you need some help with this, try reading one of these books this week:

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
The Little Prince (in English or French) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge

Princess Justice

1 comment:

  1. This was a beautifully written post about an important subject. And I love the story girl quote...have you read LM Montgomery's 'Blue Castle?' It's my favorite and discusses the power of clothes.