Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Naked Disguise

Being that my blog (and the working title of my manuscript) is called 'Childish Things,' I am apparently interested in, and an advocate of, all things that allow the imagination to run wild. Too often in life, as we progress from childhood to adulthood, we are encouraged to put away childish things and behave a little more maturely, a lot more seriously, and focus solely on the mechanics of day to day functioning at the expense of the occasional daydream or wish fulfilment fantasy.

We tend to be extremists that way. As young kids we can go nuts and create whole worlds in our minds (even build castles and forts with the cushions off our sofa), yet once we cross that imaginary line, the world drains itself of every colour to become harsh in its black, white and predominantly grey tones.

We equate seriousness with maturity and using imagination with being somewhat naive and childish. At least, that's the face we show to the world.


Have you ever noticed how older teens and adults regress - cut loose, if you will - once they're given official permission? A couple of examples in my life have occurred these last two Saturdays. Both were 40th birthday celebrations - one was a Red Party (wear anything red), and the other party's theme was Hat, Wig and Hairpiece (you can kinda guess what that involved).

Suddenly, well respected, somewhat serious, intelligent professionals (I work with a few) happily regress to their younger, cheekier and more energetic selves and lose their inhibitions. Usually, alcohol is the elixir of regression in adults, but it's not the same. For one, it's inherently messier and it dulls the senses. So when a simple hat, hideous mullet wig (my choice) or splash of color is donned, you get the same looseness without the groggy repercussions. Basically, you 'play' once more.

Adults don't play, you might say. It sounds a little strange. Perhaps it does. In reality, it's just a label for a feeling that comes naturally to all kids (big and small) when the timing and circumstance are right. The fact that I was in a roomful of adults who were having a ball, dancing up a storm, exchanging hats, wigs and tiaras as the night grew young is all the proof that I need that ALL humans (and animals by the way) play, regardless of their age. Call it whatever you want, but strip the euphemism away and that's what we're all doing.

If it takes a disguise or accessory to get to the real 'you' beneath the role you assume in society, then I say why not? And if you're a young kid or a teen reading this entry, never let your ability to play slip away.

I guarantee you'll be happier for it.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

I Wish...

Driving home from my parents' place today, I saw a little kid walking with his mother, wielding a cricket bat and taking shadow swings with a beaming smile on his face. I was instantly taken back to my own childhood and the endless lists of things that I was super-passionate about - and imagined I'd achieve when I finally grew up.

Whilst I no longer take my tennis racquet everywhere with me, or dress up like a superhero, I realized that I still - in a more understated, adult way, carry with me the books, both published that I read, and the manuscripts, notebooks and diaries that I write, making a declaration of sorts to the world that I still desire something - that I still very much have a dream that I wish to someday (soon) turn into a reality.

That young boy today was no doubt imagining hitting a ball out for a '6' and winning The Ashes, and was doing so without trying to hide his burning ambition from those around him. It seems that as we grow up, we tend to dream in a little more subdued way, or layer it with the real life necessities and obligations that adults must contend with in life.

That isn't a bad thing - after all, a life in its complicated entirety is so much more than an achievement, a trophy, or a publishing deal.


I think it's healthy, necessary and vital to every so often stand up with a hand on one's heart and make a wish upon a star. Tell the world - in most cases, the people in your life, what you wish for in those quiet and honest moments. If you put it out into the world, chances are someone, somewhere will hear.

Be brave!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Underdog

Everyone loves an underdog...

I vividly remember reading an editorial article in GQ back in 1999, whilst holidaying in Greece, that has stayed with me. Although the article lampooned the infamous procrastination of novelists - in a very wry and very true way - it was the story of a man, who after a debilitating stroke, managed to write a novel by blinking out the letters, that resonated with me. Apart from being a constant pillar of perspective and reference any time the writer-in-me gets a tad precious or believes there's 'never enough time,' how can I not deeply admire a man who despite a terrible affliction succeeds in accomplishing a herculean task that most able-bodied people could never hope to achieve?

I was reminded of that editorial last night, when I watched the Ladies Singles Final at Wimbledon. The newly crowned champion, Marion Bartoli, is the epitome of an underdog. Her playing style is unorthodox - two handed off both sides (reminiscent of the legendary Monica Seles), with a hammer-like service motion (that doesn't include bouncing the ball at the service line), added kangaroo-hops and shadow swings at the back of the court after most points (to help reset, alleviate nerves and focus on the point ahead), culminating with her physique (which is not traditionally athletic). It brought to the fore that in sport there are genetically blessed athletes and there are natural-born competitors. Marion is most firmly in the second camp.

Whether a literary or a sporting example, what is it that ignites the fervor of a reader, watcher, or admirer into advocating for the proverbial underdog? Is it an inevitable push-back of all things cookie-cutter in appearance? If so, it is a full circle moment for most adults as it tends to run against the teen need of fitting in. For me, it reminds me that we're all unique, individual creatures trying to forge our own path in the world. Cookie-cutter or quirky-souled, deep down we are all one-off creations with no inherent rule books to help us navigate through life. It is the obvious examples of the above paragraphs that provide a touchstone of this very truth and ignites a sense of camaraderie.

As we cheer for the underdog, we cheer for ourselves.