Poignant Blurs

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"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Children's Stories 1

When the boy was very young, he loved to make up games. He could think up fantastic worlds and creatures in his mind and could occupy himself for hours in his own imagination. This was pleasing for the parents because it left them free to go about their work without the need to constantly be entertaining him.

He would work out elaborate stories and play through them. His favorite companions were his stuffed animals and he became convinced that they were very much alive. He believed that whenever he left the room they would jump into motion and play without him. He wasn't upset that they might play without him as much as he was concerned that he would never know for sure. He thought they must get hungry in his absense and so he took to putting food out for them when he would leave. He always left small bite size pieces so that they wouldn't choke, and whenever he re-entered his room he would check the bits of food for any sort of bite marks, or indication that his toys had in fact gotten up and eaten the treats.

One day he found what he could almost percieve as a tiny bite mark on the corner of a bit of cheese he had left. He stared at it for quite some time. At this point he had really become quite desperate for some kind of a sign. His belief in his toy's secret lives had taken so strong a hold of him that he had to know if it were true, and he wanted badly for it to be true, because he loved them all so dearly. He ran to his mother with the bit of cheese, and his story of how his favorite stuffed animal just "must have been the one to take this little bite here, see Mom!" His mother, horrified, scolded him and asked him what other food he had been keeping in his room. "It's probably rats!", she chided, "You know your toys aren't real, now stop being silly and go clean your room." The boy went back to his room, feeling dejected. He never left food out any more but in his heart he just knew that he was right, some day he would prove it.

The next year the family went to the boy's Grandparent's for the Easter Holiday. The boy loved his Grandma's big house, there was so much room for playing in. He was searching in one of the closets for a plastic sword he liked to play with, when he found a bag full of treats. He looked into the bag, and saw candies and toys, all kinds of things he would love to play with. He thought he would most definitely get in trouble though, since they were not his, and were perhaps gifts for his cousins.He closed the closet, keeping a mental note to check back later, and ran off to play with his cousins.

That night he fell asleep happily, worn out from playing and eager for the morning's suprises. The next morning the Easter Bunny would have come, leaving him a basket of goodies.The moring came brightly through his window, and he hopped out of bed and skipped down the long hall, towards the sounds of his family and the wonder of what the Bunny had brought for him.

The family was all eating breakfast, and they welcomed him into the kitchen with kisses and jovial teasing. He was not hungry though, and eager to go into the living room and play. The other children were there too and had been fidgeting already waiting for him to wake up and so the family got up and the children all ran to rip apart the cellophane and get to the treasure buried in the mound of paper grass. The little boy began pulling out his treats and as he did so he began to notice an unsettling familiarity. He looked about at the treats his cousins were pulling out of their baskets, and he realized he recognized those too. A painful recollection of the bag he had found in the closet on the previous day suddenly bit into the sides of his stomach. He got up and went back to the room where he had found it. The family was busy with the children tossing all the strings of grass and bits of candy around, and the parents trying to take pictures and keep the mess under control. The little boy looked into the closet, and there was the bag, but it was now empty. He sat on the bed, and tried to figure on what must have happened. He figured that it must've been too far for the Easter Bunny to come, and that since his Grandparents did not always have children in their house, the Bunny must not have known where they were either.

Just then his father came into the room looking for him. The little boy asked if his father had known about the bag that had been in the closet. The father looked at the little boy, and he said yes. He said that he had bought the gifts, but that the little boy must not say anything to the other children and must not make a fuss. He told the boy to be good now and go wash up and get dressed for church.

By the time that Christmas rolled around that year, the boy had all but put the incident out of his mind. He had been sad at first, as with the toys, but he still held a belief in his heart, even if now it wasn't as impressive. One of the other boys on the schoolbus was teasing some girls in the back for talking about Santa Claus. "He's not real you know" the boy taunted. "Is so!" the girls insisted. The little boy began again to wonder. He had not thought, after Easter, that this could happen to Santa Claus too. Now he wasn't so sure. He thought about all that it would mean, all that he had seen, and all that he had been told.

About a week later, he could not stand not knowing anymore. He pulled his mother aside in the kitchen one night and asked her. He told her about the boy on the bus, and about the bag in the closet on Easter. She cocked her head to the side, and said, "Oh honey, I thought you already knew. I'm sorry you had to find out this way." The boy did not cry, he did not throw a fit. He was however, very very angry. He wasn't sure if he was more angry that they had been lying to him all this time, or more angry that they had now stopped. Did they think he didn't deserve to have Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny any more, or did this mean they thought he was all grown up? He didn't think he wanted to be a grown up if this was what it was all about. Finding out how ordinary everything is, and how much people lied.

They still put on the Santa Claus act on Christmas morning. His presents were still signed from Santa as they always had been, only it was like he shared a secret with his parents now. A secret that didn't make sense, because who was it secret from anymore? The boy was very confused, and he started to wonder what else wasn't real. He wanted proof for everything. He even began asking questions in his CCD class that upset the teachers. It upset the teachers because they were afraid he would upset the students, the same way the boy in the back of the school bus had gotten into trouble for telling the girls that there was no Santa. He asked why we could not see God here on Earth. The teacher replied that only good boys and girls ever see God when they die and go to Heaven in the sky where God lives amongst the clouds. "If you are a bad boy" she said hoping to scare him off his present track of questions, "you will go to hell and never see God", but he was not frightened. He asked his teacher what happened to all of the kids all over the world who did not believe in Jesus, because she had just taught his class non-believers go to hell for all of eternity. He asked her about Buddhist kids and kids who believed what their parents and communities had taught them all over the world. Would they all go to hell? She told him that that's why there are missionaries, to bring Jesus to all the little children all over the world and to save them. He asked her what happened if they believed in their God as much as they did in Jesus; and what if they didn't want to give him up; or what if their God thought Jesus was wrong and if they believed in Jesus Christ their own God would put them in Hell. She explained that the only "real" God was the God in the bible and that everyone else was merely mistaken, but that Jesus would help the missionaries to show the children the error of their ways. The little boy asked, "but what if the missionaries don't make it to everyone". She told him it was God's will who would be saved and who wouldn't. He asked her what would happen to everybody else, would they go to Hell? She said yes. The little boy thought and thought. He thought that he had liked believing in Santa Claus, he had liked believing in his toys and in the Easter Bunny. The meanest thing they ever did was leave coal in a bad boys stocking, and he had never gotten coal, although he was sure he had been a bad boy from time to time. He wondered about this God who would send little boys to burn in Hell for all of eternity if they didn't believe in him. He who couldn't be seen or observed but believed in, just like Santa. He decided he didn't much like this God. He also decided that since everybody seemed to make up all these stories that turned out not to be true, he didn't want to "believe" in anything. He wanted to know.

Once he decided that he was faced with even more questions. What happens when people die, who's in charge, who decided what is right and wrong; and how does anyone ever know? He decided, after thinking for a very long time, that it must be him who must decide. He decided he must be in charge of himself, and try to learn as much about the world as he possibly could. The boy was still a good boy, he went to Church with his parents and tried to undrstand the lessons and what value they held for him now, but he did not attend the CCD classes any longer.

His parents didn't force him, although they voiced their discontent and wished that he would change his mind. The little boy was determined though. The outside world of things which he could touch and feel and know, no longer seemed "ordinary" to him in contrast with the fantastic trippings of imagination. He began to regard the world around him as full of wonder and surprise. A kind of surprise that one couls know, could verify. He used his imagination to think of all the fanastic things that this world could revel to him, and he began to look for them everywhere. He now realized how much effort his parents put into Christmas each year, and he became more appreciative of each gift. He stopped asking for inordinately long lists of gifts, he stopped wondering why he didn't get everything he asked for. He began to realize that it all had to be worked for, and that his parents worked hard.

By and by, he grew into a teenager, and slowly into a young man. He spent time volunteering, and when he was old enough he went to work to help support himself. He approached the world differently, instead of waiting for things to happen to him he began exploring the things he could learn from the world directly, exploring the way his mind could figure it all out. He got through his teenage years with a minimum of trouble.

He was a bright boy, and as his size increased, so did his stregnth of conviction. He felt that he was finally learning to tell truth from fiction, and to see where each had it's place. He began writing down of all the worlds he had made up as a child, and his imagination was very much alive and well. He did not wonder why people enjoyed fantasy so much, he knew how beautiful a thing the mind could create, and he remembered the wonder these fictions had brought to him in his childhood. He merely didn't need them anymore, he had outgrown the need for fantasy and was fueled now by reality and purpose. Sometimes he would just lay in the grass and feel the hum of the Earth. He loved to watch the sunset, and to see the way that nature connected Earth to sky and to life and set it all a glow. He was a happy young man, and he felt that the world was just waiting for him to claim it.

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