This past Christmas has probably induced as much fear and doubt as any other season. The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy was an echo, if not an escalating wavelength, of the devastation of Katrina in New Orleans. The school shooting in Newtown sent ripples across the country. People thought the world would end on the winter solstice, and despite the lack of real foundation for this and whether they were crazy or not, their fear was still very real. And possibly there were instances in your life this year, dear reader, that brought about feelings of darkness and hopelessness.I know it did for me, and now that we’ve got the new year, 2013, up on the horizon, I thought I would take some time to reflect on the year past, and what can be done just to get through an ordinary day.
The holiday season is a time of the year that seems driven by the dreams and whims of children, and given the current state of the world in spite of all of that, I felt I needed to make yet another case for keeping one’s inner child intact. Watching adults come and go in my life, I’ve made some observations about how they choose to live their lives as adults. With the world the way it is, it’s more than understandable that cynicism can infect us with the inability to see the good in the world and worth there still is in going on with it. I can see myself heading down that slippery slope now, and the demons still creep up on me when I’m alone with my thoughts.
But I’m developing a shield against cynicism. And that’s keeping in touch with my inner child. I’m a proud Pegasister watching the new My Little Pony, and I enjoy reading YA books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games as much as I do writing them. Whenever the demons creep out to oppress me, whenever I find myself losing faith in the world and in humanity, I turn to these new pillars of childhood, not as a way to escape, but as a way to restore my zeal, as way to remind me that to see the world the way a child does can in and of itself destroy the cynicism that plagues me.
There can be no question that the children of Newton were traumatized by those shootings, by the violence and by the relentless media fire afterward, but I have to believe that after all of that, they can still see the world for its wonder and the wealth of knowledge it has to offer, perhaps now more than ever, in a time when life must be appreciated for what it is.
Yes, life is hard, but there will always be new things to discover, new things to hold onto, and with the optimism of a child, we arm ourselves with the strength to carry on, even when things are at their darkest, and being optimistic seems to make no sense, to have no place in the world anymore. It is important that we cultivate that in children, now more than ever, and it’s important that we continue to cultivate that in our own adult lives.
Certainly we can find contentment without getting involved with things like the new My Little Pony, but the important thing is that we don’t forget what joy something like that, or like the holiday season now, can inspire, and how that alone can be enough to keep us going from day to day. It’s what I try to do in my own life, and I hope it’s what others try to do in theirs, if only to keep the shadows at bay so that when one’s writing about them, examining them in one’s head, one can turn them off completely as soon as one’s finished with them. I believe that holding onto a childhood whim now and then, is another form of hope that can turn a typical bad day into something a little bit better.