Lines to Love: Childhood Haunts Edition
Vacations are for indulgences. Staying out late- or, as was our case in the wilds- just staying outside until all hours, going places you wouldn’t ordinarily go, and eating all the things you ordinarily curtail; I had a bevy of indulgences there: exotic mixed drinks with equally exotic names such as the Devil’s Pocket Watch or Poison Sumac Margarita (or an English Ass; sorry, Katie, I still don’t like gin, although the drink was, indeed, refreshing), fresh baked bread nearly every morning, and, of course, ICE CREAM. I don’t know about you, but I scream for ice cream, especially when said soft serve matches my nail polish. I’m a little girl at heart. Which brings me to my topic today of sorts. On this last vacation, I allowed for another indulgence: a frolic down memory lane. I read several books I have not picked up in over a decade- okay, in some cases, two decades, maybe three- I refuse to actually count…
While in the wilds, whether while seated by the campfire with a book light in the binding or ensconced in sunlight at the river’s edge in a comfy chair, I read several of my favorite books from childhood. Oh, and I must not forget that my skip down the well-worn lanes of my childhood was helped by some of the books I read with my nieces and nephew (or, on the occasion while they slept, simply picked up and read because I wanted to be six again, too).
An interesting thing happened to me while I read through these beloved books. Some of them, like Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, felt very foreign to me. I knew I’d read them, but they felt so new to me, as if I had never cracked the pages before. Then there were others, such as Eleanor H. Porter’s Pollyanna, which were so dear to me in my wee-years that I almost cried recalling the emotions with which I read them (or had them read to me) when I was a tiny tot.
However, what I found the most endearing about these books was how much wisdom and truth was packed between their pages. As a child, it’s easy to overlook the grandeur of these works because, as is the way with children, you aren’t thinking anything other than I like this story. Yet, as a grown-up, I see how these truths were little seeds planted within me that helped to shape my psyche, and thereby, shape the way in which I viewed the world. And because I am who I am, as I read I had to tab the lines within these stories that jumped out at me most. (If you're unfamiliar with Whiskers on Kittens, there have been several Lines to Love posts: here, here, here, and here.) Ordinarily, I would offer context for these lines, but they convey truths eloquently and stand well within themselves without a frame of reference.
Without further ado, I offer you the lines that added wisdom to my early years (unknowingly):
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
“Oh, Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good.”
“No great wisdom can be reached without sacrifice.”
“Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”
“Laugh and fear not, creatures. Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with speech.”
“He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn’t really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight- and there’s nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.” (I believe this is a pertinent piece of wisdom, although it does seem just a trifle out of place with the others. Still, it’s included lest ye forget the import of these words.)
“He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.”
“Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare.”
“There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
“What men and women need is encouragement.”
“Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out!”
“The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town.”
“A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the boot-straps route has two choices. Having risen from his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel climb.”
“‘Forgiveness,’ said Mary Rommely, ‘is a gift of high value. Yet its cost is nothing.’”
“They learned no compassion from their anguish. Thus their suffering was wasted.”
“‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life…Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.’”
“‘I need someone,’ thought Francie desperately. ‘I need someone. I need to hold somebody close. And I need more than this holding. I need someone to understand how I feel at a time like now. And the understanding must be a part of the holding.’”
As I’ve chronicled these lines, I find that there is a theme throughout. Compassion, mercy, forgiveness, gratitude, understanding. These are the things that are held up; they are the pearls of great price. If there must be striving, these are the things toward which we should strive. And, in the rough and tumble of life, when there is grief and sorrow and heartbreak, these are the things which will see us through. For these are the things that continually point us toward hope. Tolkien articulated this hope so beautifully in The Return of the King: “For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end, the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
Now, dear readers, I have a request. Think, think think- as Winnie-the-Pooh would say. What are some of the lines from your childhood that you remember and recall and re-quote in your grown up years? They can be from movies or books or plays or poems. But, think of them today and see if they hold bits of treasure in their words that have built themselves into you throughout the years. And, then, once you’ve recalled them, please share them with us all. I know I would love to hear them.