I sit in reminiscence of a child of four years old. He was a child of reverie. Entranced in the nighttime stories that his parents had read aloud, the walls between that of the tale and his own reality were imperceptible. He truly lived where the wild things were; he could taste the pickle chiffon pie. He could recite the stories with ease, but had not yet understood the symbols on the pages that laid before him.
Introduction to the strange symbols began in kindergarten by means of the stories and soundtracks of “The Letter People”, which aimed at personifying the alphabet. Every few days, a new story painted the child’s imagination with a fresh batch of colorful imagery. The pictures in his mind seemed so very close to reality.
The child’s continued years of formal schooling, however, had begun to weaken his relationship with the stories that he had once found himself captivated by. Reading had begun to become one of the numerous restraints that slowly strangled his creative intuition. It had become controlled and regimented. What had once been a source of joy for the child had become trivialized by the incessant quizzing of his knowledge of the petty details of the text and measuring of the speed at which he read. The glimmer that had once shone through these magical writings was no longer. His yearnings for depth and wonderment began to manifest itself as “attention deficit” – a “disorder” –as if it were improper to live with awe and curiosity. Instead of actively participating in the educational curriculum, the child began to sink back and observe the strange reality that surrounded him; perhaps the surrounding world wasn’t so different from the fantasies of storybooks.
With teenage years came further pressures of conformity. His thought process began to sway from the vibrant internal realm of the mind to the plastic world of physicality. Any hint of individuality was immediately shut down. If he lacked certain attire, he would be cast aside; if his hairstyle swayed from the norm, he would be mocked. Reading had now become something that was forced upon him by his authorities, his teachers. However, out of these many dull drawn-out novels, one in particular had struck the boy with an extreme interest – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. It was the first book in ages that he had read from cover to cover. As time went on and new less-interesting books were resentfully read, Siddhartha had dissipated from his memory. Yet, the ideas of Eastern philosophy laid dormant in his subconscious. All in all during his teenage years, his internal ember of reverie had become increasingly difficult to maintain. He had become another face amongst the crowd, but knew in his heart of hearts that there was much more to life than the superficiality that had encompassed his life.
College began. A torturous breakup had sent the young man into a torrent of abstruse thoughts: “Why am I alive?” “Why do I exist?” “Why does anything exist?” “Fuck – what is reality?” Thus, he had awoken from slumber and was once again aware of the absurdity of the enigmatic universe that he found himself in. Slowly, his child-like wonder and vigor began to re-manifest. He once again began to read – to read anything and everything that he could get his hands on. Perhaps by reading, he thought, he could make sense of the strangeness of the human situation. The man dug deep into the profundities of the arts, hard sciences, and especially philosophies – Tesla and Einstein, Plato and Nietzsche, Emerson and Schopenhauer… The wisdom of the Eastern philosophies began to re-emerge – Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism… He was seeking meaning, but was coming up empty-handed.
The wisdoms of the literature he has immersed himself in have allowed this man to incessantly see the world through rose-colored lenses. He understands the balance of opposites that pervades existence – one wouldn’t know happiness if it weren’t for sadness; life wouldn’t exist if not for death. The idea that “life is but a dream” pervades every parcel of his existence. He has come to the conclusion that meaning is solely subjective, and at the heart of life, is beauty. He is a man destined to be forever lost in reverie.
This is a story I wrote back in my final year of university.
I truly enjoyed writing this, and I hope you love the read as well.
I dedicate this post to the wanderers and wonder-junkies - the ones forever living this intricate life in awe, wonder, and reverie.