At the age of 4 I received my first book for Christmas – Raggedy Ann and Andy. I remember the experience quite well and can even vaguely see what the images were on those pages. I had no clue that the squiggles at the bottom of the pages were a magical code for what those dolls were saying to each other.
And, it wasn’t until my uncle realized I was so engrossed in the book to be concerned about anything else, that he offered to “read” it to me. The same uncle that gifted me the book that day.
Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same thing, and even today words retain much of their magical power.” – Sigmund Freud
I learned to read…
At first, I didn’t want to hand the book to him because I wasn’t big on sharing my things. And, at the age of 4, you can’t really expect me to freely offer up something you just handed me. Once something is in the hand’s of a child, it belongs to them. It’s just the nature of things, I presume. For another thing, I didn’t know what “read” was but it definitely didn’t sound like something I wanted to risk losing these pretty pictures over. After what I’m sure was a lengthy discussion about what “read” meant, I learned those squiggles at the bottom of the page were a story about what was happening to the dolls in the picture.
I enjoyed the tale so much that for the next several days, all I did was follow people around the house, asking them to read it to me. I’m sure they felt like I must have asked a hundred times, but I don’t believe I’m that big of a pest because I do remember sitting down in frustration and deciding to read the tale myself. I’d make up stuff about what I thought the squiggles said based on what was in the picture. Upon seeing this, my oldest sister offered to teach me how to read it properly. Of course, with her being a teenager, I only got the quick rundown of sounding things out and common words like “the” and “and”, before she was back out the door with her neighborhood friends.
Well, that just so happened to be all that I needed. I’d do the best I could, then run and find someone when I got stuck to tell me what it said. And so the adventure goes – I was an avid reader before I even began school. Books became my favorite things. Or, more accurately, words did. To me, words were magical potions that when mixed together created whatever kind of life I wanted to imagine I lived. They gave me great new ideas to play with when I was forced outside “to be a kid”.
You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me.-Strickland Gillilan
I learned to weave my own tales…
Mud became my own magical elixir that could be formed into whatever I wanted it to be – mostly mudpies. But, sometimes a soothing lotion I could rub on my arms and face that would magically turn to dust if I let it sit long enough. Bugs and other critters became citizens in my kingdom. The birds sang to me – and only me. On fishing trips with my dad, every fish I caught had a story to tell. On one trip, I caught 20 something blue gill (little fish that are abundant in these parts) and became known as the “fish talker” – and that’s not a fisherman’s tale…it’s true.
Although I could read quite well, I began to make up my own versions of fairy tales and find the similarities in my life. Every pot and pan on the stove in Grandma’s kitchen became a witch’s cauldron containing a magical brew. I learned to make gravy and homemade apple jelly, with apples picked straight from the tree. I helped with the menial task of picking “tater bugs” off the sprouting leaves in the garden. Miniature monsters that gnawed away at the potatoes that would someday transform into the “clouds” (mashed potatoes) we ate or fried with the beans from the stalks that would surely grow into the sky one day.
And then I grew up…
As is typical with most, as I grew up the magic faded. Groomed into a life that would be suitable for my survival. Doing all the things that ought and should be done. Hiding the fact that I spoke to trees and the whisper of the wind through the leaves was a language I understood. Passing by people in the supermarket, in the park, on the streets with fleeting thoughts of their resemblance to an animal – valuable insights I kept to myself. Each day, greeting the birds, butterflies, and dragonflies with an imperceptible nod of recognition and a deep, resounding “Hello, my friends” echoing in my head.
Trudging my path through the deep dark forest under the guise of sanity. Sanity defined by society. The kind of sanity that creates an insane world. An insane world where the only magic that exists is the illusion of the eyes and what they perceive. Card tricks, rabbits in hats, and women sawn in half. An insane world that has to be seen to believe. And if you see it, no one will believe it.
Now I’m “Coming Home to Self”…
I believe in fairy tales. I’ve dropped my guise of sanity. I’m back in the kitchen cooking potions and fare fit for a king. I’m back outdoors, walking regularly to say “Hello” to the birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. The ladies and the tramps. The alley cats and tomcats. Walking with my daughters and introducing them to my insane world. One just so happens to be a natural as a “wind-whisperer”. A cool breeze on a hot summer walk is a welcome gift, indeed!
I’m “Coming Home to Self” – a beautiful title given to a beautiful group of women who honor and support each other on the journey. Who allow the energy of “just being” permeate all that we are and all that we do in this sacred space. A sacred space that is open and welcoming any woman who is ready to Come Home to Self.