Lots of things in life are feeling very adult right now. There has been intense growth and acknowledgement here. But as I continue to grow, I continue to desire play and exploration above all things else in the true spirit of adventure where there is neither pretending nor trying, only living full. When one is in awe, in rapture in the world, it feels there is no other choice.
I revisited and revised an old piece about growing up. It is right in line with the questions arising in me over the past year or so. The questions that I'm not quite sure will ever go away.
Here There Be Dragons
It is twilight. A young boy sits in a rompus room with his mother. He is not yet old enough to be in school and she is not yet old enough to pawn her child off on another careless adult. They are surrounded by the successes of the day: a tower of blocks, the barricade from attacks of the trolls; a ship of paper cutouts and blankets draped over two chairs, which sailed them to Morocco where they purchased the ornate silks decorating their bodies; a pile of capes, tiaras, top hats, swords, and sparkle from whence their villains, queens, gents, explorers and fairies sprang to existence; and of course, a large stack of books, the hand guides to this kind of serious business.
They sit across from one another in the middle of the room, heads touching over a map as light from the setting sun touches the room with a golden glow. The mess more magical than menial. The mother points to the corners of the map, the uncharted territories, one slender finger underlining the scrawling script bleeding over the page: “Here there be dragons.” The boy looks up at her, neck craning forward, eyes big. Dragons?! The mysterious corner of her mouth lifts. She nods.
The boy bounces up. If you were not listening close enough, with your whole body, you would miss the elaborate transformation occurring in that simple action. In a bounce, he is no longer a boy. He is Drago Firus, Boy Raised by Dragons. He summons his mother to close all the curtains, for every dragon boy needs a proper cave and of course, dragons do not leave the cave until after the sun has disappeared over the horizon. For what effect would fire breath have in the sunlight? One of the first rules of pretend, that every child knows intuitively, states that what occurs in the imagination by day becomes very nearly real after the night lights are blown out. One must have a proper cave for this very reason. As the curtains close, he begins to breath fire and they fly into the night.
One year later, the boy is old enough to go to school. He sits in a classroom in the first row, ready to learn, for mother promised school to be an awfully grand adventure of its own. The teacher opens a geography book and passes out little maps to each of the boys and girls. The boy is excited. He knows about maps. One could say he is quite familiar. Maybe he will get to raise his hand and tell the other school children everything he knows about how to build the best dragon dwelling because by this point, with one year of experience, he is very good at it. Or perhaps he will learn all about a new creature that he and his mother had forgotten all about. She would be so pleased.
He looks down at his map. There are bodies of land he does not recognize, each body has a name, not scrawled, but printed in square, sure ink. If you looked just at his face in this moment, you would see his eyes moving quick as a bullet, back and forth, first in grand sweeping fashion as in a great Texas shootout, then slower, more meticulously, little sniper eyes. They come up still. Frozen, almost. There is no “Here there be dragons.”
Here, everything is known.