And this is understandable. Growing up facing the endless stream of challenges and frustrations that the average person faces has a way of dulling our senses. Sure we survive, and we have our victories. But the scars of our battles, the accumulation of unrealized dreams, and stifled hopes tends to make many people cynical. Some look back upon childhood as a cruel hoax. Others do view it as a precious experience that they long for and cherish, but still an experience with little practical application for grownups. And finally others forget it or don’t think about it that much. After all, they may reason, to survive in the adult world we cannot be like children. And what can the world of a child possibly teach us about dealing with the complexities and brutal realities of the real world?
My opinion of childhood used to be a mix of the above: until I began to write. Then one day I saw a picture of an animal in a particular situation and a little girl came out of nowhere in my mind. The girl took a look at the animal and excitedly went over to tell her dad she had found a “zebra.” This dad was skeptical of the discovery made by this girl whose name is Nell. Nevertheless he and his wife Rhonda chose to take Nell to look for the zebra and, to quote Robert Frost’s immortal poem, “that…made all the difference.” I won’t tell you the ending of this short story but suffice it to say that the animal Nell saw turned out to be part flesh and part metaphor.
To my surprise, four other stories involving Nell and her family followed. A brave insect set forth on an unusual trek, Poe’s poem “The Raven” came to life in a very peculiar way, a Christmas tree revealed its secrets, and a long forgotten superhero made a spectacular return.
In these five stories the skeptical world of adults collided with the magical world of childhood and sparks of wisdom flew everywhere. I had rediscovered the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child. I say “rediscovered” because it was always there, only I didn’t use it. So I gathered these tales together in a book of “children’s stories for grownups,” and I published them on Amazon as an e-book to share my epiphany with others. The stated aim of the book is to help us discover or rediscover some of the amazing things that children can teach us adults about life.
I want to end this post by admitting that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is hard even after you have rediscovered this ability. The adult world has a way of bogging you down. There are just too many responsibilities and uncertainties. I try to ask myself: what would Nell have to say about this or that? The answers don’t always come right away, but as I discover more of them I will write more stories!
My e-book The Sun Zebra will be free on the Amazon store from November 17 to 18. Please download it (it's a quick read), and let me know what you think.
You don’t have a Kindle? No problem, you can download the following safe and free application from Amazon that will allow you to read Kindle books with your PC or Mac.