Novel by Christina Carson
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Quote from Suffer the Little Children:
"Perhaps what we call misfortune is actually a place where the universe interrupts our habits that keep life so limited and small, forcing us to respond differently. The opportunity it offers depends on how hard we work to close the gap or hold it open, allowing ourselves to glimpse realities we've never glimpsed before."
Novel by Christina Carson
Quote from Dying to Know:
"I knew in that moment, we were never meant to surrender our childlike innocence, to trade a world in which we fit like a glove for one that hung on us like ill-fitting hand-me-downs. However, all about us insisted on our membership. And instead of a handshake or a mystical password as entrance into this spurious society, we agreed instead to share a lie, the one that says we’re safe, secure, and fulfilled living this way."
One of my friends of forty years once said to me about twenty years back, after going to a fantasy movie with her young son, “Kids don’t need fantasy; adults do.” And we both laughed. Young kids still know the birds talk to you if you’ll listen. They know imaginary friends aren’t necessarily imaginary. And they trust everything will be just fine. That’s why they smile when they wake up, bounce when they walk, and pat your face when they see you sad. Until they are submerged by words, they know the world as a fantastic affair that happens for them every day.
That’s why I have always loved reading “kid’s books,” the classic literature supposedly written for our children. Wind in the Willows, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Charlotte’s Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, and my all-time favorite, Winnie-the-Pooh. Watch who cries more, laughs harder and smiles most, you or the child you’re reading to. In our head-long rush to grow up, especially these days, what we abandon is the part of us that knows the world as whimsy, that part of us that expects a bird to sit on our shoulder or a bunny to nibble our toes. I don’t think we mean to leave these possibilities behind us, but in the grown-up world we’re offered, suddenly we have doubts about all sorts of things: how pretty we are, how strong we can be, or how smart. Then fear comes to own us, and the soft, sweet world of childhood hardens into a world of us and them, rather than family of Life we knew it as before. As Mary Oliver points out in her poem,
“The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water:"
But the lilies
are slippery and wild—they are
devoid of meaning, they are
simply doing, from the deepest spurs of their being,
what they are impelled to do
And so, dear sorrow, are you.
Only, what we became impelled to do was doubt our whimsy, relinquish are awareness of what we truly are, and believe plodding is more appropriate than bouncing through our day. It is a belief, only a belief. There are no facts to support that choice. So when we open a child’s storybook, that’s why our heart quickens, because that author gives us permission, once again, to remember that once-upon-a-time never grows old.
In our day job, we own a small photography business in which we photograph children at childcare facilities. Last year, we designed a set for Winnie the Pooh, and the kids love it. But they’re not the only ones, for one night our thirty-something-year-old photographer and her sixty-six-year-old friend, me, found ourselves role playing with all the folks from the Hundred Acre Woods and laughing ourselves silly. One of the poses we designed is the photo you see here. I tell the parents of the kids, “Be sure your child takes this one with them when their leaving home to start their own lives.” For I would love fewer of us to lose our trust in fantasy. This is what Christopher Robin says to Pooh on the sign:
Promise me you’ll always remember
you’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.
We’re writers. We hold the power to tell the tales that either confirm life as we now know it or suggest that there are other ways. In this strange new age of writing and publishing, where angst, frustration and doubt are so near, let us turn to the wisdom of Christopher Robin and post it where we can always see what he so aptly suggests. For would a little boy or a little bear lie?