Saturday, August 04, 2007

Can't Pretend That Growing Older Never Hurts

My son wanted to rent the DVD of "Bridge to Terabithia". So I put it on the Netflix list. We watched it today.

Kind of a bittersweet film. I didn't fully understand why a certain plot point had to happen until I watched some of the extras. It is a book, which I had never read. There was a bit where the author explained why she wrote the book. It was based on something that happened to her son when he was 8. That made it a little clearer.

One of the themes in it is a kids escape to a fantasy land. This was a theme in my own childhood. Maybe it is in everyones?

My friend Janet and I adopted this place in the woods near our house growing up. We called it our Freeland. It was a spot where they had a made a clearing to build a highway - Route 287 in NJ. You had to walk through a bunch of woods to get out to this huge clearing. It was kind of an exhilarating feeling when we got out there. It was so open. Much like I felt later the first time I drove out west, through Wyoming and Utah. The Freeland was a place to go to get away from whatever we felt we needed to get away from. To be honest, I don't know how much time we got to spend there. We soon got caught up in the other stuff going on in the woods - mini-bikes, alcohol, boys. My parents had split up, and I was about to start getting into trouble. The idea of a Freeland, for me, represented somewhere that I wouldn't always feel so disappointed. Possibility existed. Something about growing up with unhappy parents makes a kid sad.

Another friend of mine, Becky, lived next door to my grandparents in Pennsylvania. She and I used to wander around in the cornfields and streams, making up songs and stories about what we hoped for in life. Becky had a rough one, from my point of view. Her father was an alcoholic mad man. When he got angry, he'd get out his rifle and shoot their kittens. He seriously did. I was scared to death of him and was quite timid around him. Becky was amazing at what a good attitude she always had. But I knew she was scared of him, too. I loved Becky and felt for her. Nobody was shooting guns in my house.

Imagination is such an important part of childhood. What happens when we get older? It feels like at some point, at least for me, it became too dangerous to dream and imagine. Because when it doesn't happen the way you thought it would, it is kind of disappointing. Such a theme. I always remember this little blurb in New York magazine, in the movie listings. They'd say "Phone Ahead. Avoid Disappointment" Avoiding disappointment was a mantra for me in life.

That's really pretty depressing, isn't it. It's no wonder I love comedy so much!

'Bridge to Terabithia' hit that nerve in me. I guess I wonder if, at 47, one can still try and accomplish dreams. Or even have them.

Mid-life crisis? Possibly. Depression? Likely. Makes sense that I'm a fan of Pete Townshend? Definitely.

1 comment:

brucewmoore said...

I used to think that we all need to dream HUGE when we were children, because dreams inevitably narrow and diminish as you experience more reality. But now I think you simply dream differently as you get older. I still have some pretty unlikely dreams. Have they been affected by aging? Sure. Am I disappointed? I suppose sometimes, but wonder and disappointment are flip sides of the same coin. I don't think you can experience disappointment unless some part of you still has the capacity for wonder. And THAT means you can still dream. Doesn't matter how far down you are (at least I sure hope so!)