Every few days a mail arrives from The Universe, aka one Mike Dooley, who sends wit and wisdom and I think is extremely believable as The Universe in what he says. Here’s a sample from today’s mail:
Nice, isn’t it, Savyra? How you can always see the little girl or little boy in another, if you but look. And then how you can see that the mask they sometimes wear isn’t to inspire your fear, but to hide their own.
I love this, and it is particularly true for me after an experience at a workshop on writing and illustrating for kids, about 10 years ago. We had to sit in a circle and tell stories of our childhoods, to bring out the children we once were – in some cases, very long ago.
There we were, hardly knowing each other, and from very different backgrounds, old and young. The severe teacher from the Eastern Cape mutated into the little girl she’d been, right in front of our eyes, as she spoke; another young Xhosa girl, very sophisticated and chic, spoke of when she was about six years old and was given a ball as a present. Suddenly, she said, she felt as if she was a white child, because now she had a ball. This moved me so much, because even though I’m at the paler end of the racial scale we weren’t considered wealthy by any means when I was growing up, and I felt such an affinity with her. For me it had been all about a large doll I craved in the shop window, and which my mother somehow moved heaven and earth to buy for my birthday. Back to the writing class – there was also a shy young man who talked about the clay oxen they made by the river bank. As children, my siblings and I also played on the local riverbank and made whole worlds for ourselves.
In the circle of students, we all looked around at each other, and we were all our child-selves, smiling. Maybe it sounds cheesy, all this. I guess you had to be there.
But every now and again we’re thrown into crises where the roles are forgotten, masks are ripped off and we’re stripped bare, down to our authentic real selves and dare I say it – beautiful? Is that so terrible? Must we always wait for a crisis, to be our real, ordinary, vulnerable and playful selves?