PURITY OF PERSPECTIVE
In ￼’The Weight of Water’, Anita Shreve wrote, “I CAN HARDLY DESCRIBE TO YOU THE JOY OF THOSE EARLY MORNING WALKS TOGETHER, AND IS IT NOT TRUE THAT IN OUR EXTREME YOUTH WE POSSESS THE CAPACITY TO SEE MORE CLEARLY AND ABSORB MORE INTENSELY THE BEAUTY THAT LIES ALL BEFORE US, AND SO MUCH MORE SO THAN IN OUR LATER YOUTH OR IN OUR ADULTHOOD …”
I so remember the excitement and wonder I felt, as a young child of five or six years, walking the five blocks to public school and seeing, really seeing, blades of grass, an ant or caterpillars (of which there were many), a stone which caught my eye, the shapes of leaves rustling in the trees, a crack in the cement sidewalk, the gravel between the sidewalk and the road. Each day was a new, anticipated experience that made me feel so incredibly alive. Being so much closer to ground than an adult, gave a magnified view, a more immediate perspective to nature. The old-fashioned perennial gardens right smack at my eye level were magic with their bleeding hearts, roses, peonies, and a multitude of other bright and beautiful blooms and fragrances.
I dawdled on my four daily journeys, to and fro’ in the morning and again after lunch, loving the experience of examining my world. In between the walks, having to sit quietly and still in the classroom was an impossibility for me. Filled with thoughts itching to be expressed and bubble forth, my chattiness resulted in reprimands. Then came the inevitable long minutes in the hall, waiting to see the principal and suffer the strap on my little hands. None of that deterred me. My thoughts, ideas and experiences persisted in being expressed.
The one punishment that gave me pause was the notation about my talkative nature in my report cards. A gentle admonishing from my parents resulted. I hated disappointing them.
Authority figures in school were another matter. Their opinions did not impact me as much as did Mom and Dad’s. My quiet rebellion at school continued into my post grad nursing program where I was always in trouble. I did try harder with teachers whom I liked and respected. But even as a young child, I tended not to respect anyone who did not like or respect me.
I don’t know where this ingrained belief system came from. Perhaps it was knowing my parents not only loved me, but trusted and respected me. Adults who did not live up to that mark in my eyes, experienced my talkative, waywardness, my only method of exerting some control over my own life.
I was an only child for the first eight years of my life with no peers to share my wonder of the world around me. Perhaps that influenced my desire to talk in school.
Whatever the reason, I remember with great affection, the magic of my childhood and the magic of my small, happy world. And such memories keep me feeling like me, despite the wrinkles and limitations of age.