Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blast from the Past

If you had a heart
That went down to the soul
Up to the heart
To the brain
All the way to heaven
Where the angels sing to you and me
If your face looked just like mine
Though it doesn’t matter
We are in harmony
We are in destiny
A world without you’d be
A living misery
Don’t you see?

--Yours Truly, age 6

Oh yes, wasn’t I a clever little child? Particularly the lovely part when I thought that one could be “in destiny,” as though that were a state or a location. Pity that I wouldn’t listen when my mother tried to gently correct me. I know best, after all. Always have.

That little ditty (which I was extremely proud of and sang at every opportunity for a good year after I composed it) was originally titled “The Hamster and the Gerbil.” Yep, that’s supposed to be one rodent serenading another, speaking of their lasting friendship despite their many differences. It was inspired by my kindergarten class’s pet gerbil, Tommy (named, oddly enough, after the parish priest Father Tom), whom I got to take home and care for over summer vacation. I already had a pet hamster, Kookaburra (named because I liked kookaburras at the time, and kookaburras eat mice, and hamsters are kind of like mice—perfectly logical, no?), and with my overactive childish imagination I anthropomorphized the pair into best buddies.

I think it’s interesting that I mapped out the soul’s residence to be the center of the body, somewhere below the heart, smack dab in the middle of the chest. Perhaps I was expounding on the nature of the core of spirituality, existence, and individuality. Our identity is central to us, ingrained deeply into our center, virtually indistinguishable from our physical form. Or perhaps I was just plain dumb. Then, too, is the symbolism: animals as metaphors for humanity, illustrating my desire to connect with and bridge the gap between disparate, warring factions, urging us all to look past our differences to discover our hidden, integral similarities. Ha. The funniest part of all, however, may be that I still have the song and the circumstances surrounding it memorized, and it popped into my head today for no apparent reason…

The little birds, they creep and shudder
Beautiful butterflies dance and flutter
Following the eagle’s word

The clouds go rolling by and by
Covering up a clear blue sky
Following the eagle’s word

The deer, they jump in rhyming ways
Bounding, bounding through the days
Following the eagle’s word

And the eagle? He perches in a tree
Frowning down, but still with glee
Watching animals, and sometimes me,
Follow the eagle’s word

--Me, age 8 (or 9?)

Well, at least I gained a little more talent between kindergarten and third grade. I wrote this schweet work of art during a particularly boring class period, because times tables frustrated the hell out of me and I always was one to multitask. I showed it to the teacher (because I was also always one to show off, until I realized years later that a) bragging isn’t cool and b) half the time I didn’t have anything worth bragging about and so was just making a fool out of myself) and she was suitably impressed. She entered it into the district language arts fair, and I won a special prize, plus the honor of having “The Eagle’s Word” performed by Dance-A-Poem. Yep, dance students from a local college acted out their interpretation while a theatre arts major read the piece out loud. I felt special.

Let’s overanalyze again, shall we? The eagle is a wise, benevolent, but stern leader. Perhaps he’s a god-figure, in which case he must be overlooking his creation. His subjects, then, must follow his commandments. There are beautiful, innocent, pure things in the eagle’s world—such as butterflies and deer—but darker images exist, as well—storm clouds and the inspiration of fear in the little birds, for example. Still, we need both the aspects for a complete world. Yin and yang, black and white, good and evil, together.

Unfortunately, as pathetic as the above specimen may be, that’s about when my poetry-writing skills peaked. That’s a bit of a shame, because I wish I had the talent to express myself in verse, but eh, oh well. I’ll settle for the occasional blog post and call it good enough.

I’m burning all over, burning inside
I want to get out, but I’ve just gotta hide
There’s a flame in my heart, and a flame in my eye
I don’t want to live, but I don’t want to die

Waiting for someone to rescue me
Help me, I’m burning, and I wanna be free
Where is the light I’ve been waiting for?
Where is my second chance, where is my open door?

My mind is on fire
But my body stands still
I’ve become a monster
Against my will

Who am I…?
I don’t want to know
Where am I…?
Someplace light never goes
Let me out!
I can feel myself burning
Set me free!
Before I stop yearning
To find the real me

--Me again, unfortunately, age 12

There’s more to that one, but I can bear to post the rest of the pre-teen angst. Wow. That’s mighty embarrassing. But if we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? In my defense, at least, that’s not a self-portrait. It was written from the perspective of a rather creepy and also extremely depressed fellow in my class. Poor guy was pretty messed up, and when he announced one day that he was “burning all over,” my friend exclaimed, “Hey! That sounds like a song!”

So…man. Not sure why I felt compelled to share my more humiliating moments with the Internet at large, except to say: What we feel is really awesome at one point in our lives will probably look really stupid a year or two down the road. We’re constantly growing, changing, and maturing (hopefully, anyway). The moral, I guess, is don’t take yourself too seriously…and don’t forget to have a little fun every so often!

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