When I was a kid, I didn’t read books, I INHALED them. I ate them, whole. In all honesty, I have never truly transitioned to the adult world of books. Sure there are some that I love and many that I admire deeply, but nothing hits me or holds me like the stories that were imprinted upon the soft clay of my young soul.
One came to mind this morning: chapter two of Beezus & Ramona. This scene has never left me from the time I first read it. It’s just one of those things that is always there on my hard drive – it is a reference point on my life journey.
What I was reflecting on as I sat here today was how, as a kid, I totally related to Ramona, not Beezus. As the youngest of three girls and the fourth of five kids — I fully owned my freewheeling status.
Ramona taking only one bite out of every apple in the entire basket and explaining her action with a cavalier shrug that “the first bite is the best?”
Check. Made perfect sense to me.
Ramona misunderstanding the teacher telling her to ‘wait here for the present’ and thinking she couldn’t move if she wanted to get the gift?
Check. My literal misunderstandings as a child are the stuff of legends.
So, because I always had older siblings ready to step into the responsible, do what’s expected role, I was always free to do exactly as I pleased which generally meant going as far in the opposite direction of what was conventional as I could. This is not to imply I was difficult or challenging – my little brother tore up that real estate – I was just wildly independent and not interested in doing things the same way as anybody else.
Hence, my easy affinity with Ramona and my genuine lack of understanding of Beezus.
And yet, today, I find myself with far deeper empathy and understanding for Beezus and no small amount of annoyance with Ramona the brat.
What is it we are talking about here?
Felicia wrote a really terrific essay on her blog yesterday. It explored this same idea from a different angle – maybe that’s what stirred my thoughts this morning.
It’s great being an adult. I like getting to create my life, make choices, have autonomy over what is and isn’t part of my day. However, there is no question much gets lost in the process of leaving childhood behind.
Right now, I feel like my third eye is calcified.* I can easily feel disconnected from my intuition if I don’t pay careful focus to what aspects of the adult world I actively filter out.
Below is the painting (in process) I referenced yesterday that began with a ‘wishbone’ symbol and then ended up with a white picket fence that got turned on its side and became a ladder.
This is how it goes when you trust and have fun.
If you don’t remember this chapter from Beezus & Ramona and did not re-read it above, allow me to recap:
- Beezus believes she has no imagination (though she wants it desperately)
- Beezus believes Ramona does have imagination (giving her power away)
- Ramona comes into Beezus’ art class where Beezus has been trying (so hard!) for weeks to do a perfect painting so that it might get hung on the bulletin board for all to see and admire
- Beezus is overwhelmed by Ramona who takes up all the oxygen in the room and proceeds to to a wonderful painting that the teacher admires.
- Beezus’ perfect painting (however unwittingly) looks like it was copied from a Mobil gas station. She is hurt, misunderstood and mortified.
- Beezus stands up to Ramona and takes back control of her art class (her special time) and sends Ramona out to the playground. (takes back her power)
- Beezus has no time to be perfect or think – she just rolls out her emotions and thoughts onto the paper and BOOM – teacher loves her original piece and up on the bulletin board it goes.
Of course, I feel like Beezus’ lesson here can be applied to so much more than simply making art.
We can try so hard (so hard!) and then get utterly buried with discouragement when the effort does not give us what we hoped for.
The key is to see that the only problem in that scenario is that we were going in the wrong direction. We had lost touch with play, with experimentation, with following our intuition – we were listening to the adult-hive-mind.
Because what I know for certain and what is at the core of my work with Squam, is that when we just straight up PLAY – our own unique essence wells up and we blossom, we thrive.
And, best of all, we get exactly what it is our heart and soul most wanted – it just rolls in from a different place and thrills us with a kind of surprise that it could be so easy, so fun.
*no more flouride in the water for me!
P.S. the squirrel has been downgraded to a mouse, under my bedroom floorboards. Is there a cat in my future?