You may remember the TV show “Cheers,” whose theme song contained the line, “I wanna go where everybody knows my name.” Of course we want to go to such a place. And imagine if, when we walk in, everybody jumps up in joy because we have arrived. Well, that doesn’t happen very often, except maybe when you walk in and the dog is waiting by the door…but if you have grand children, it may happen with real people now and then.
And so last Saturday, after arriving at a family gathering, I looked around for my grand daughters, Maddy and Alina. Aha! They were holed up in Maddy’s bedroom. “NEENA!” they both screamed in joy when I walked in. They rushed to give me a big hug. (See, it happens now and then. 🙂 I had written a book starring them and they wanted a sequel.
“OK, tell me the story,” I said, sprawling my still-tomboy self awkwardly on Maddy’s pink, frilly bed. If you ever want to have some creativity-sparking fun, ask some kids to tell you a story! This one had flying horses, Old Mr. Cricket, passing gas, heinous monsters and super powers gone horribly wrong. The kingdom is doomed, terrible things are happening and they want to fly away to join Softy.
“But Softy has gone to the Western Mountains,” I pointed out. “”Yes, we want to go to the Western Mountains, too.” Hmm, the Western Mountains is a metaphor for…dying, actually. I tried to explain that (gently) but they didn’t care-the kingdom was falling apart, they were under attack, they wanted to fly off on their winged horse to the beautiful western mountains. I wondered if this ancient, ever-recurring idea-that the world has become decrepit and must end-this apocalyptic idea that pops up constantly in ancient epics and hit movies-is it part of our collective unconscious? Is there even such a thing as a collective unconscious?
I don’t know, but I do know that they have filled my head with images that won’t go away until I write and illustrate the book. I have to write it, because I have to get the images out and because they think I’m magical.
If you are a writer or an artist, you know there is whole lot of sweat involved in that magic; a collaboration of body, brain and reaching for the stars. And for me, anyway, usually falling a bit short.
Yet we keep reaching. And that, in itself, is kind of magical, don’t you think?
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