Even as time’s moving sidewalk pushes me within months of THAT date, the moment when we Americans become truly senior, there are still so many things I want to be and do when I grow up. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say “with the rest of my life” but really growing up, in spite of chronological age, milestones observed, challenges faced - with grace and courage or without - is, for me, an ongoing process. I learn every day; my hope is that I grow every day or evolve or morph or refine or draw closer to enlightenment so I choose not to declare myself a complete grown-up. Which leaves so many doors to peer behind, endless lives still waiting to be tried on. Sometimes it is the mental process of considering, envisioning; other times, actual steps are taken toward enlarging my bag of tricks.
This week I would wish to be Neil Gaiman, for his fluid and vividly humorous (or frightening) writing but mostly for his mind and how it appears to his readers to travel without footprints from ordinary to most decidedly non-ordinary reality with stories we can move right into without renovation - or any intentional suspension of disbelief.
To see the world with his imagination, to paint the - or so we should believe - impossible so that we not only nod in recognition but wonder precisely where we can buy a ticket is a gift for which no measuring instruments exist. It may be that as he writes he feels constrictions, limitation, but I find no sense of that in his work. It flows without boundaries like water across the Earth and reminds me that anything described as infinite is really, really vast.
What a wonder it would be if, with the rest of my life, I possessed the ability to conjure worlds upon worlds with the letters of the alphabet as my tools, that and a mind which stretches in either knowledge or speculation on our institutions, our very gods, ourselves in alternate realities; who we are, from where have we come and who knows and can tell us the rules.
Contemplating my Gaimanesque existence, I wonder if there was some switch that was thrown, either by divine forces, chance or something unnamed, that carried a young Neil to the borderlands where, as I picture it, he was given a hat that didn’t fit quite so tightly, his brain/mind had more room to expand. It was allowed to breathe deeply of the what-ifs; I do not know his biography so I can merely speculate. I only know that I long to learn the secret of dreaming such dreams and then being able not only to recount but interpret them, for myself and all seekers.
While it may not be the answer, I follow the work of teachers who believe we can learn to get out of our own way. Where we may be blocked, we can open; where we resist, we can practice surrender. In the best possible sense, I believe our limitless child remains the larger portion of who we are and the notion of, at 65, anticipating a life that will burst into flower given the right circumstances may denote an understanding of perhaps the way things really work.