“I’m at the station, waiting for the London bound train. There’s an airliner overhead, and cars passing beneath the railway bridge, which brings the ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ film to mind - which I think was, it is a Thanksgiving movie actually, so it was released around this time of year, decades ago now, probably.
As a kid I used to gaze up at the planes that would fly over Birmingham, and wonder where they were headed. The list of possible destinations was somewhat limited to what I knew of the world from adventure stories and TV shows. The ones that stood out were America, Africa and Australia. It was highly unlikely that someone from my background would travel at all, and yet, somehow, I knew it was on the cards for me the first time I heard Lee Marvin singing ‘Wand’rin Star’.
I once acquired a large cardboard box from a local store and flattened it out, punching holes in it for hand-holds and in the process of doing that I concocted a story that there was a £100 prize for anyone that could figure out how to fly, and I climbed up a high wall, wings in place, and launched myself off. Half a century on there’s still evidence of this flight response in my slightly crooked smile.
That’s a blackbird, I think, chirping in the background.
There are many recommendations within psychology, such as rediscovering childhood joys - the very things we were told to put down in the name of growing up. This search is no easy thing, as so much in life encourages the forming of protective layers to guard against fearful occurrences, which come in many and varied forms.
That’s a robin now, chirping at me because I’m in his territory. I think the size ratio differential between us doesn’t seem to be of too much concern to him. I wonder if you can locate moments that resulted in the creation of protective adaptations, and perhaps more importantly do you have a sense of what was there before?
Rejection and fear of rejection featured large for me. Prior to that fear an unselfconscious, enthusiastic drive to share what I sensed existed in music and colour was my authentic state of being, I believe. If it’s not clear to you already, these recordings are my attempt to create a map to locate that same treasure. I would like to share something about how fear shaped my early self-view, and my worldview.”
I used to love Halloween for its candles, Bonfire Night for its flames, and Christmas for its lights, as they all created a tangible boundary against the night. Sometimes I would stand just outside our backdoor and shine a powerful torch into the darkness, its beam proclaiming and protective.
As a child, I had a fitful relationship with the dark. I can only guess at when the seed of unease was planted, but I know that it spanned more than four thousand nights, endured within a shared bedroom taut with torment, which sat above a living room fraught with deforming levels of stress. And if sleeplessness due to raging anxiety is a consequence, please do so quietly so as not to wake the whole house.
Thank God for the sound of an occasional yard dog barking in the distance, for it meant I was not the only creature awake in the predawn hours, and perhaps the reverberations of his bark would keep the monsters from entering at the gate.
When sighting a threat on the horizon, Holy Men used to bury the treasures of the church to safeguard them against pillage. Children do the same thing. When they don’t feel safe they protect their hearts and bury their joy beneath a protective layer, adding more layers with each infraction suffered, on and on into adolescence, gradually causing a separation from a love for life that lasts so long, the hiding place becomes forgotten.
May we all be unearthed, before we are laid into the ground.
Thanks so much David for yet another beautiful and deeply revealing post. Remembering our childhood, without the trauma associated with it, ￼despite the trauma, or rather, because of the trauma is a lifelong effort.
This made me think of what it’s like when people get together in the workplace or at a religious function.
I feel that most people (me included) hide their joy when speaking to friends and colleagues ￼and immediately talk about the stress and work that has piled up vs their joy. No one seems to want to share the positive as much as the negative and I think it goes back to their childhood.
This really resonated with me and will hopefully make me think more about those guarded moments as they happen. It will be an interesting test to start talking about my joy vs troubles and see if that makes people (including me) feel uncomfortable.
Maybe we also reach out with how hard we are working or trouble we had to try and share burdens. It will be interesting to see if anyone is receptive to talking about joy or insights we’ve have had, like the one I had while listing to this.
Thank you for sharing David.