The great Classics show younger readers how to maintain the wonder of childhood and the rest of us how to get back there in a hurry. The authors of the Classics - such as JM Barrie, CS Lewis and E.Nesbit - were particularly able to tap the well of their childhood.
I'd like to offer you a road home with some simple directions in this week's blog and next.
Yesterday I was leaving the supermarket fairly jacked off, as always, superficially aware that I am 'lucky' but also just jacked off; drizzle, duty etc. Just like you do too.
I drove past a man in a car who had a look on his face which matched my thoughts.
I thought - Jesus, once you were this:
Each and every one of us goes through transformations so gradually we don't notice them happening but the cumulative effect is one of devastation. We wear the cliffside we have fallen off.
What we lose is:
'I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg.' Peter Pan and Wendy 1911.
Or in the earlier manuscript of the play 1904:
'I'm the new world – I'm poets singing . . . I'm youth, I'm joy. I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg.'
The trauma of this loss creates a real burden and our attempts to recover that youthful joy and to defy and resist the horrors of adulthood and duty are the subject of many comedies - The Office, Some Mothers Do'Ave 'Em, the Carry On films, Charlie Chaplin etc, and so many more - where the main character is essentially still a child maladapted to the cruel adult world. We try to remedy the loss through our own children, through drink and drugs, affairs, bad behaviour, mistakes, escapes, holidays, music and ... writing.
I have witnessed at first hand the impact of 'adulthood' on children. The kids don't cope too well - some muscle through, some don't. The only way out of puberty intact is to keep that childhood alive - through art or sport, whether it's animé or skateboarding.
When you see it - this universal wound - you can tackle it head-on by creating your own 'shadowland' which acts as something like a placenta for the lost child in you.
When you see it and decide to start to spend time back in your old haunt, you will find more compassion for the 'olds', a more tender admiration for the cheek of the child, and you will gain VIP access to your own shadowland childhood in your dreams.
'Through fantasy-thinking, directed thinking is brought into contact with the oldest layers of the human mind, long buried beneath the threshold of consciousness. The fantasy-products directly engaging the conscious mind are, first of all, waking dreams or daydreams ...then ordinary dreams, which present to the conscious mind a baffling exterior and only make sense on the basis of indirectly inferred unconscious contents. Finally, in split-off complexes there are completely unconscious fantasy-systems that have a marked tendency to constitute themselves as separate personalities.'
C.G Jung 'Two Kinds of Thinking.'
Begin by making a list of your favourite things from childhood. You will see on the list appear many foods. You will see the role these play in the elements of wonder in the great classics in The Classic course. These will provide rich material for your forthcoming work.
Sleep and wake and write in your notebook your dreams. When you, at last, acknowledge the constant presence of your childhood, the spring buried beneath the winter of adulthood, and give that 'shadowland' some sway, your writing in this genre will begin to work harder.
When we catch up next week, we will have some tales of magic to tell.
See you on the other side. Sweet dreams!
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