A Special Feeling

dawn.jpg

I am going to attempt to describe something I have felt many times before but have never properly put into words. It’s a feeling, what I’m trying to describe, or more of a mood, of sorts. It’s hard to put into words, it really is: it’s like trying to explain the taste of salt to someone who has never had any before, or colours to a person born blind and in the dark. There’s something transcendent and untouchable about it. The spirit animal of this feeling would be an albatross, drifting upon the winds against an overcast sky at a beach. That, my friends, is the “feeling” of this feeling. Okay. Here goes.

It only comes during the early hours of the morning, when the sun is only just beginning to rise, and the world is cool and quiet. It’s magic, I think. It’s dewdrops and anticipation and dying stars. Everything just sort of feels mysterious and wonderful, like when you stare at a spiderweb after it rains, the raindrops glistening on its silken strands. You are alone in the world, and yet, you are not. You are with the characters inside books. You are with long-dead authors who inscribed the words of their novels at these particular times, in the wee hours of the morning. You are with everyone on this entire planet, breathing in and out, full of life, of blood and sunlight.

There is no horror at this time of the day. No nightmares. It is a quiet time, when the baby lies in the cradle and is still asleep. The world is the baby, still asleep, still dreaming, and you are its mother, watching on, full of love and silent awe at this beautiful creature. This is the time of rich, earthy soils, so dark it is like the richest, most moist chocolate cake in the world, and of the tips of noses peeking out of burrows, investigative, inquisitive. It is the time of beetles that buzz and spin like clockwork and angels hiding in cathedrals. You are standing on the ground, inside your home, but you are also floating, like a star, hanging in the middle of the tapestry of life, everything glowing in bright pinpoints. When you make wishes at this time, they will almost certainly come true.

The best place to be standing when this feeling sweeps over you is at a door that overlooks a garden or some grass, with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand and a nice, comfy cardigan wrapped around you. Because when the sun comes up, the feeling, the magic, disappears, like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage and horses and gown. The sun comes up, and it burns everything out; or, if it ends up being overcast, gloom settles, like an overgrown blanket, over the land, and everything is thick and stuffy. What this feeling is, ultimately, is pure childhood. As a child, for you, all was wondrous and fascinating, and at this time of the day, you return to that place again, woven back into that safe, snug pocket when every bumblebee was a shooting star and even the cracks in the pavement looked up at you like smiles. Oh, it’s so difficult to describe it, so hard to put into words; if only feelings could be distilled, like water, and then given to other people to be drunk, so they could experience it as well: this feeling is a kind of otherworldly loneliness: you feel completely alone, yet the world is so beautiful, all around you, soft and sleeping, just starting to stir, that you don’t mind it at all. It is happiness, a time when you spent your hours reading books and watching cartoons and playing make-believe, too in love with life to breathe or speak. It is the feeling you had as a child about Easter eggs, those striped and spotted colourful things hidden in nooks and crannies, chocolate delights waiting to be found. The colour of this feeling is the colour of water itself, smooth and beautiful, bright and sparkling.

Treasure this feeling, if you know what I am talking about, if my attempts at putting it into words has reached you in some way, because I do believe it is the closest thing humans have to real magic, and that, my friends, is something quite special.

Do You Remember What It Was Like, To Be A Child?

boy

There is something to be said about the magic of childhood, when every book you cracked open was an actual gateway to another world, every film you watched utterly immersing, every experience delightful, every bad experience quickly forgotten. Fairies really did flicker in glints and glitters at the bottom of your garden, your parents were gods who held up the moon and the stars, and the world had not yet grown its teeth.

Before reality seeped in and we “grew up”, life was a delight. Unlike the adults of today, very few children, unless they grow up in abusive households or harsh environments, are depressed, let alone anxious. During my brief stint as a teacher, what struck me most, and made me the most happy at the end of each lesson, was the sheer, frolicking happiness and boundless creativity of the children. They live entirely in the moment, as we all once did. Wherever I looked, smiles greeted me like tiny suns, a phenomenon you would be hard put to find in an office crammed with men and women tapping at keyboards.

We lose that innate joy as we grow older, is what I am trying to say, and it is an awful shame. If adults saw the world through the eyes of a child, perhaps our planet would be plagued by fewer problems: Let’s not cut down the trees because the birds need them to live in; let’s share our toys with everyone; let us all play together, beneath the sun, laughing and shouting. Instead, what we have, most of the time, is suffering and war, whilst millions of the well-off slave away at jobs they dislike in order to fill their houses with fancy toys, almost like petulant, overgrown children.

I wish, like everyone, that I could return to that halcyon age, when every day was an adventure, and fun the agenda. It could be argued that the reason parents enjoy seeing their children happy is not only out of simple parental concern, but because it reminds them of how they saw they world when they were their son or daughter’s age. My younger self would never have dreamed of killing herself to escape this world, or found it anxiety-inducing just to go down to the shops.

That is why it is important, I think, to tap into your inner child now and again; deep inside, we are all still that little girl and boy; only to survive we wear our big, adult selves like armor against the world. So perhaps next time you feel the urge to take out a piece of paper and doodle a bit – do it. Next time you take a stroll in the park, look and gaze at everything in wonder, from the way the sunlight winks between the branches to the feel of the gravel beneath the soles of your shoes. Treat yourself to some ice-cream or an icy-pole (or Popsicles, if you’re American). Dance around in your room to some music you listened to as an eleven-year-old. Re-read some of your favourite childhood books.

It is good to remember how we were as children; it will make us kinder, happier, more loving. Any negative emotion we experience these days, be it competitiveness, or jealousy, or hatred, are but products of our adult society, and not a true reflection of who we are on the inside.

On some level, it is as if we have forgotten ourselves, forgotten the joy and beauty of life and other people, brainwashed by the media and the constant negativity it pours down our throats, scared and isolated in our big cities like children sent to our rooms to be punished. We have lost the spark. Nowadays people stare as if you are peculiar or “not right in the head” if you gush over a garden of flowers, or stop in the middle of the footpath to lift your face up to the sky, letting the sunlight warm your cheeks. Our eyes are affixed to our phones now, or on the ground, or into the distance, in contemplation of the non-existent future or some other misery.

Having a doodling session or eating a bowl of ice-cream with the same spoon-licking delight of a toddler might not change much in your life. In the middle of doodling your phone might ring, or after looking at the label on the tub, you might decide not eat the ice-cream – you do need to watch your weight, after all. After reading this, you will probably go on living your life as you have always done: eyes on the ground, ignoring the beautiful sky.

And that is okay, because we all have responsibilities we must tend to, trials and tribulations to face. Even children get sad sometimes, or do not feel like drawing. But what you must not lose is the essence of childhood, which is the delight of being alive, breathing and existing. You must not forget to smile. You must not forget to appreciate the world you see around you each time you wake up in the morning. You must not forget how it was to be and feel happy, not because you received a raise or bought a house or have a holiday planned, but simply for the sake of happiness itself.