I have always steered clear of the meme format for blog posts, as I considered it self-indulgent, but if a meme catches on, it ends up being more about other people than oneself, so here goes.
John Gillespie over at SensitivityToThings.com has started something with his finely crafted Six Childhood Facts post, and you can read a highly entertaining 6 from Pavitrata Taylor in From Out of the Ether a Golden Egg.
Just for fun I tried to think of a few, but only got to 5. If you think of some of your own, you can add them at the end of this post, or leave a link to a post on your own site. I realise now that the things one has grown up with, and which thus seem ‘normal’ can be amusing and interesting when viewed from adulthood, especially through the eyes of others.
If you’d rather skip the facts about me as a child, you can go straight to the dessert, a bonus feature: Age Does Not Matter. It doesn’t though does it, really?
Some Childhood Facts
I would not say a word until I knew I could deliver it perfectly, so I spent most of my time silently listening, and the rest sounding like a 50s newsreader. My mother spoke to me constantly like a friend rather than a baby, so I randomly picked up long words which made me sound cleverer than I was. I nearly gave an old man a seizure in a Sussex railway station when, tottering in a knitted dress and lace-covered nappy, I pointed up at a poster for an exhibition in London and said “Tutankhamun” with newsreaderly gravity and archaeological grandeur.
My mother and I used to be able to read each other’s minds, which might be why I have never really learned how to lie; there would have been no point. We used to play a game called Mastermind, where you have to guess the opponent’s choice of 4 coloured pegs, and the order in which they are placed. There were 6 different colours, and we used to play hardball in that one colour could be repeated up to 4 times. The games never lasted long, in fact they would often be over in one guess, but we used to play for hours.
I would eat only junk food after about the age of 9. I hated fruit and vegetables. I ate copious amounts of sweets every day but I was wraithly thin and I have still never had a filling in my teeth.
I became a vegetarian at age 13, due to my love of animals. It was rather alarming for my mother, especially as nourishing me was already so difficult, but she took it very well. In the early 80s it was not so easy to buy vegetarian food. Had I been from one of those grow-your-own-muesli, knit-your-own-yoghurt families it might have been easier, but I was not. Anyway, as I said, I would only eat junk food. In those days being vegetarian was all about cheese.
I used to think I had magical powers because if I held one finger up to my eye I could see through it. It took me many years to work out that it is possible to look at one thing with one eye, and one with the other, so the two images are superimposed. Precocious in some fields; woefully retarded in others. (I’ve never told anybody about that).
Age Does Not Matter (A More Recent Anecdote)
“You wasn’t born in seventy.”
He was huge. Even his shining shaven head seemed muscular, his eyes steady and piercing like an archer’s. I was dried up and dizzy from flying all day, and then even my breath stopped. The hall echoed with an unreal uncomfortable sterility. His huge hand was on the precious little red book that has let me travel everywhere. The stare did not break. How would I prove that I am in that photo booth snap? It was all I had to show that I am me.
CHUG. The rubber stamp came down. He did not betray an ounce of mirth. But after half an instant, in which my world dissolved and hurriedly reconstituted itself, I realised he was making a joke for us both… and paying me a large compliment into the bargain. A joke and a compliment were yet more welcome in that lonely sterile world than they could have been in any other place, made funnier and kinder still by the deadpan delivery.
I yelped a strange laugh with what breath I could draw, and felt the immigration hall at JFK turn to look. Sudden sounds, especially merry ones, are not so common there. I stopped short of skipping my way to Baggage Claim.
If I didn’t seem like I was nearly thirty-seven, that is a victory for my meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy.
Thirty-seven. I have to laugh. Other people laugh too, when I can remember (or work out) how old I really am. (Nearly 38 now!)
Yesterday I was remembering some of the “records” I used to listen to in my teens. Sometimes I do things like that just to amuse myself; it’s so staggeringly long ago it’s almost as if it must have happened to someone else. I daren’t show you a picture of me then, that would be too staggering. I look older than I do now, in fact I look older than I am now. I carried the weight of so many imagined worries.
It’s not that I don’t worry now, I do, but nowhere near as much. As the saying goes: You can’t push the river, it flows by itself. Meditating every day shows me that is so. I don’t care less; in fact by worrying less I have more with which to care.
As Sri Chinmoy says:
“Age does not matter,
Unless you replace
With your mind-night.”
Age does not matter. Until his passing at age 76, Sri Chinmoy proved that to me. Through his life of meditation and self-transcendence he showed me that perhaps I am not as limited as I think. I hope to continue forgetting how old I really am. I hope to feel amused, rather than bound, if I do happen to remember, and grateful to Sri Chinmoy, especially if others find it funny too.
- Portrait of Sri Chinmoy: courtesy of Pavitrata Taylor at Pavitrata.com
- Portrait of me age 7 (top): courtesy of my Mum
- Portrait of me, my Mum, Snoopy and Henry-the-dog: courtesy of my Mum