I was born at a very young age. Truth be told, I don’t even remember the event actually taking place. I’m forced to rely on hearsay and eyewitness accounts of my not being here one second and then my sudden spring into existence. No big bang – not even a “subtle thump,” to my knowledge. Seems to me that I was always here, although more evidence points to somebody else starting the process and then me jumping in and saying, “It’s OK, I’ll take it from here.” But I don’t remember that happening either.
Now that I think about it, that’s how dreams always seem to play out. We always seem to pick up somewhere in the middle, and then seamlessly continue on as though we’ve been there all along. We hit the ground running. And, in dreams, anything can happen and we’ll just accept it while continuing to go about our business. We’ll walk by an octopus juggling chainsaws and say: “Hey Lou. How’s it going?” moving on to the water cooler, undaunted.
Newborn babies probably coast through the beginning with that same kind of nonchalant, surreal mentality. Literally everything that happens is a new experience to the newly initiated, so the kid’s never going to say: “Whoa! That’s weird.” Well, when I say “in the beginning” I should probably specify to say after the initial shock of being formally introduced to the world of form. Everything’s going smoothly in the warmth of your mother’s generous womb-service until it starts getting a little too snug in there, so you (Mr. Know-It-All) decide to make your way south, which is weird, because that’s exactly what elderly people in America do, they go to Heaven’s Waiting Room, a.k.a. Florida, and then let nature take its course. So, there you are, an elderly infant in your mom’s Sunshine State when, suddenly, somebody starts grabbing at you. Not just somebody: somebody else. You never knew there was such a thing until that point. I mean, you’d heard whispers; actually, muffled sounds. Your mom’s voice was as familiar to you as the sound of her heartbeat, but you had never had visual evidence to support the existence of “another.”
Until that time, the concept of there being a mother was pure speculation on your part; silly superstition you bought into way back when you were naïve and immature. (Maybe it was something you ate.) But then there’s this giant, latex-covered hand grabbing at you, like you’re a chip at the bottom of the bag! The next thing you know, Dear Grabby grabs hold of your foot and drags you out into the great wide open. You’ve been pulled out of Paradise, kicking and screaming, naked and cold – woe is you. Clearly you’ve been condemned to a merciless death without even receiving a fair trial. There’s no other explanation. Your life passes before your eyes.
Into the land of giants you go. There’s a really bright light and a bunch of people who look like you, only bigger, and they’re wearing masks. “What are you trying to hide?!” One of them actually smacks you on the butt to add injury to insult. Assault and battery right out of the gate? Really? Heck of a first impression, Grabby. And then he cuts your umbilical cord, which was completely uncalled for. “Hey! I never cut your umbilical cord!” Had you only known that was going to be your last meal, you’d have savored it more.
For the first time, you can hear yourself cry loud and clear as it echoes through the air. It’s kind of liberating, so you really get into it and start wailing, while the giants with masks and shower caps poke and prod you, and pass you around like a doobie. Then they take your fingerprints and footprints, like you’re some kind of common criminal. Other than the primal screams, everything that’s happening is against your will. You’re in the latex-covered hands of fate. The cool air bites at your tender flesh until they eventually wrap you in swaddling clothes. After being the spud in this cruel game of Hot Potato, you are finally transported to a warm and cozy location, with a familiar pulsating vibe. It’s that same heartbeat, only from a new angle. And then there was another familiar sound; a voice, soft and soothing. It was less muffled now, and it came in a clear whisper directed right at you. She said, “Hello.” And, “Don’t be afraid.” And, “I love you.”
After a few days of relentless terror like that, nothing’s going to seem out of the ordinary, because everything is out of the ordinary. A child’s world is limitless, because they’ve yet to be fed the lead balloon of Mind Confinement. Fear not, though, a lifetime full of doubt indoctrination will eventually snuff out the flame of imagination.
When everything is new nothing is knew.
Let’s say a man made entirely out of green Jell-O walks into a 3-year-old’s bedroom while the child’s parent reads them a bedtime story. It’s safe to assume that the parent will be more put off by this occurrence than the 3-year-old. In fact, the kid’s reaction is very much dependent upon the reaction of the adult; the 3-year-old defers to the old veteran to let them know whether there’s danger present. Whether the visitor is a man made of green gelatin or it’s a big ole Saint Bernard, the child’s response will be one of surprise and excitement. The adult, on the other hand, is likely to crap a penguin, since nothing in their experience has ever prepared them for an encounter with Green Jell-O Guy. To the child, the Saint Bernard is just as miraculous and magical. They don’t know what’s ‘supposed to be.’
Innocence is bliss.
“Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.” Elwood P. Dowd Harvey