Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two Worlds

 
“Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits, lights of day, smells, textures of carpet…"  someone named Alain de Botton said.

It is very true; it is the way of children to experience life in this way, where the impressions and memories have very little indeed to do with the outside world.  They aren't even things that the other people (especially grown-ups) necessarily see or remember.  The thing is... I don't think I ever grew out of that, nor, more oddly still, do I want to.  But I mustn't remain a child, no.  Clearly I must accept responsibility, learn the skills of the adult-world, and how to process life effectively, so as to know what to do when, on my own.  In affect, I have to live in two worlds at once... without mixing them unduly.  It increases my need for solitude, naturally; and gives me a distant appearance when I am in company.  For, while others are occupied with the chatter of talk, what they'll say next, or planning ahead, I'm amusedly watching the flecks of light above the chandelier, noticing that those three dresses in a row make the colors of the French flag, or quite possibly thinking of a story I should write.
 
"I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books." (to quote C.S. Lewis)

And as such, that is my language; that is largely how I see the world.  I don't feel I've viewed a room properly if I've just sat on a formal chair, or been ushered through. No, I much prefer the method of changed perspective; to actually know the room I must sit on the floor, or the arm of a chair; flop down on my back in the carpet, look at the world upside down; slide across a hard floor with my socks, crane my neck to see every angle of view from the windows.

Out of doors is the same, I feel you gain very little by gazing airily about you. Sniff the air, and breathe it deep into your lungs; run helter-skelter over the uneven earth, snapping twigs as you go, rustling leaves; if you've tired of that, try running backward, gazing up at the changable sky... you're bound to find a new perspective in some way or another. Lay down and stare up into rushing branches of trees, let yourself fall asleep in the sunshine; roll over on your stomach and watch an ant in the blades of grass. Get up and step so that you make no sound, move silently about without disturbing the birds and bushes, army-crawl through the grass until you're overlooking the pond, watching the ducks unnoticed; climb a difficult tree and bird-watch for miles, keeping your eyes out for deer and pheasants; find a particularly secure arm of the tree, lean back and close your eyes, feeling the warm sun on your eyes, even if the air is chilly...

I love a good rain. That usually brings quite a fresh view of a place, outside or in. Spattered and darkened, the changing of light; fresh and wet and noisy. You'll see what everything looks like wet. Inside you'll probably find the tea cupbard and possibly the cookie jar. You might find a book.   A bookshelf often speaks for a house, a bit of a compass needle, or an axis for the home. Listen to the thunder, noticing what scurries in fright; learn just how the wind howls through the trees, branches groaning, and making the house creak and shiver.

People don't always understand why I derive such pleasure from these things, nor why I love rain and dislike driving; or enjoy the dark, and avoid making phonecalls.  And yes, I'm quite likely to be reminded of a fairy-tale by the things of ordinary life; and more likely than some to be reminded of my own life by the stories I read and write.  There are drawbacks of course, to being this way; to living 'two worlds'; to being rather a lot of people rolled into one... But I know no other way, and find the unique enjoyment that comes with it, sufficient compensation.

Lucy Maud Montgomery says it very well indeed.  "I grew up out of that strange, dreamy childhood of mine and went into the world of reality. I met with experiences that bruised my spirit - but they never harmed my ideal world. That was always mine to retreat into at will. I learned that that world and the real world clashed hopelessly and irreconcilably; and I learned to keep them apart so that the former might remain for me unspoiled. I learned to meet other people on their own ground since there seemed to be no meeting place on mine. I learned to hide the thoughts and dreams and fancies that had no place in the strife and clash of the market place. I found that it was useless to look for kindred souls in the multitude; one might stumble on such here and there, but as a rule it seemed to me that the majority of people lived for the things of time and sense alone and could not understand my other life. So I piped and danced to other people's piping - and held fast to my own soul as best I could."

 ...  I'm beginning to understand my 'other world' a bit better these days, and as I realize its merits, and also its inevitability, I'm resolved not to be ashamed of it; not to give up pursuits that others don't see, or try to change the way I see things; but to enjoy to the fullest degree this life that not everyone gets the chance to live.  I am, after all, a citizen of another country as well, "that is, a heavenly one." (Hebrews) and I'm not sorry to be reminded.

grace. peace. rejoice!

5 comments:

Julian said...

Beautiful! You are a kindred spirit!
Christina

Lyndsay said...

Livi, that is one of the most beautiful, relatable things I have ever read. Every word resonated with me. You are indeed a kindred spirit. Thank you for posting. Love you. <3

Olivia said...

So glad, Lyndsay. Thank you <3

Jodi said...

Hand over mouth. What beauty,Liv. I commented here before but it disappeared. arrg.

Olivia said...

I hate it when they disappear... Thank you friend, for your encouragement! I hope you have a blessed week.