09 October 2009

What color is your sky?

As a child I saw things differently. I was afraid of the dark, or rather, afraid of the things that lurked there. I was always afraid of the possibility of seeing ghosts though my best friend for years was a girl of unknown origins and looks. At least to my mother, who couldn't see her.

Like most children, my imagination roamed free. A hairbrush was a microphone. The bed a stage. A shadow could be a monster or some horrible beast that would drag me away, never to be seen again. And of course, I didn't dare look under that bed at night.

But now I'm an adult and things have changed. Um, well, a little. I'm no longer afraid of the dark. I prefer it. I will admit, many of my 'friends' are still invisible to most. However, that shadow near the forest at the end of our driveway is not seen as a monster or beast. Obviously it's the spirit of a long-dead Native American, protecting what was once his people's land. I just might write his story someday.

Children are amazing. They have such capacity for 'what-if' and are willing to accept so much. But as they grow, they learn from us adults that there aren't monsters under the bed or in the forest. The sky isn't purple, it's blue. The grass shouldn't be colored red, it's green. And don't forget to stay inside the lines. Little by little, their imaginations are reined in until many of them forget how to use them. They forget how to dream.

Luckily many of us never quite let go of childhood. We thumb our noses at authority and keep coloring those pictures any way we see fit. And so an artist is born... or an inventor... another Einstein... an actor... a musician... a writer.

Luckily, my mother taught me that there is more to life than what I can see. (Insert a nod to Shakespeare at this point.) She taught me so many things through example and words. So many things about this world and the next. And so I am still a child inside. I hold on to the notion that yes, sometimes the sky is purple. And pink. And blazing orange. Somewhere the grass may be red. And those shadows? They're ghosts... or shapeshifters... or faeries.

My youngest son -- now nine -- is ever the dreamer. He often seems to be immersed in his own, happy world. We once asked him what the color of the sky was in his world.

"Orange," he replied, not missing a beat. I hope he always sees it that way.

So what about you? What color do you see when you look up?
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