I was with some of my grandchildren yesterday and woke, today, with memories of the light in which they live--of how they still wake into Eden, of how time rolls along  for them like the roads out of the Shire into the next adventure, blessedly free from monsters that have not yet invaded their sun-struck worlds.

Everything's still new, though I can see, in the oldest, time settling in its claws--yet, she's mostly surprised. The oldest child in each of the families is the one I tremble for, about to enter the merciless gauntlet of the world outside the walls of home. All the games; all the new rules, the new languages of self and other. "There are no truths outside the gates of Eden," a young Bob Dylan wrote during the dream of 1965. Way too dramatic to be true, but true enough to say a truth we, long outside those gates, have probably forgotten, so used to this rough world, so armored as we've become.

I'm sitting here hearing the children's laughter, their excitement at each moment's brightness.

Of all the poets, I think Wordsworth was most alert to their surprise and the cost of time:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The poem, "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood," ends with gratitude for having had the visions that the poet still recalls, even though those visions "have fled."  As they have for all of us.

Allan DiBiase
3/21/2013 01:34:14 am


Allan DiBiase
3/21/2013 05:31:41 am

You wrote: "....yet, she's mostly surprised...."

I think it's Wittgenstein (somewhere) who wrote (maybe Culture and Value) "What was it like to be surprised before we knew the concept of 'surprise' "?

We live in a culture that conceptually sucks the egg out of the shell. Then we're left with a hollow misrepresentation of life. Abstracted from the life that is and will be.

An example is the coining of cliches: "Your inner child" or "The child within." Both are examples of cliches that represent the hollow shell without giving any descriptive sense of what it might mean to "be surprised" in the best possible way as an adult. So people say these things but rarely do you observe them being "surprised".

John Dewey covered this aspect when he wrote about maintaining the ability to "intellectually disrobe". Children don't need to do this, thankfully. And as adults in our culture I think it has to be deliberately cultivated. It's something I try to allow myself everyday. But you can tell from the way that's put what the problem is. "Surprise" should be the default position.

Maria Giura
3/21/2013 11:24:00 pm

Montaigne explained that an essay is "the track of a person’s thoughts struggling to achieve some understanding."
I'm really enjoying reading the "tracks" of your thinking as you reflect on your days in light of classical poetry and song lyrics and of course theory. In this entry in particular I appreciate the reminder of Wordsworth poem to put words to that "magic" we see in children's eyes. I've seen that "magic" even in the eyes of orphans when I visited an orphanage in Mexico. I was expecting the traumas that they had emerged from to bury any joy, but they too, innoncents depsite the loss of some of their innocence still shown with some "celestial" light. For me that is the hope still in them, the God still in them. This wasn't true of every last child, but true of many.


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