Those Original Solitudes
I always imagined that I would write a book about or through or channelling my childhood at some point, and I did do a bit of that in the poems in Red Velvet Forest. Interesting how long ago and faraway those poems seem now. When I say, my childhood, what I really mean is the daydreams and the flights of fancy. The imaginings, the secret worlds.
I’ve been reading On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer this past week, and I’ve been reading him for quite a while, on the On Being blog, and in book form. He speaks to us as a wise elder in this one, and somehow that got me thinking about my childhood. Also, Rob and Chloe were cleaning the basement and came across the box of china horses from my childhood. (The palomino was on my grandmother’s knick-knack shelf and it came to me, because of my early love of horses). He talks a lot about connecting with younger people, and about writing as a retrospective act. I urge you to seek it out.
In one passage he says,
“I’ve never felt obliged to share the whole of my brokenness in public. As a Jungian therapist once told me, “The soul needs its secrets.” Only when I’ve thoroughly integrated a hard experience into my sense of self can I tell my story in a way that makes safe space for the reader to reflect on his or her hard times.”
Sometimes I think it makes sense to keep the good memories secret, too. Because the soul also needs those.
In Letters on Life by Rilke, there is a chapter devoted to childhood. The following speaks to me:
“And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with their whole heart. And yet the greatest beauty would be achieved if everyone remained in this regard always like attentive and good children, simple and pious in sensitivities, and if people did not lose the capacity for taking pleasure as intensely in a birch leaf or a peacock’s feather or the wing of a hooded crow as in a mighty mountain or a splendid palace. What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not—great. A great and eternal beauty passes through the whole world, and it is distributed fairly over that which is small and that which is large; for in such important and essential matters, no injustice is to be found on earth.”
If you are one who is interested in thinking about the dreams of childhood, it’s imperative to visit Bachelard’s The Poetics of Reverie. He says:
“Those original solitudes, the childhood solitudes leave indelible marks on certain souls. Their entire life is sensitized for poetic reverie, for a reverie which knows the price of solitude.”
“...the child knows the happiness of dreaming which will later be the happiness of the poets. How is it possible not to feel that there is communication between our solitude as a dreamer and the solitudes of children?"
Do you remember the reveries of your own childhood? The secret worlds you lived in then? Did you have a name for the places you escaped into? Feel free to use this as a writing prompt....
In other news, note the addition of a “Sponsors”/advertising section on my sidebar. (If you’re reading this in the Newsletter, please view in your browser). This is an experiment for me, and something I hope to pursue further. This month’s sponsor is a friend and editor, Kimmy Beach. If you’re a writer who has a manuscript you’d like help with, click through to see the editing services she offers.