A hope note
One of America’s favorite children’s books for 40 years running has been Maurice Sendak’s, ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ It’s a thriller about how a child, sent to his room without supper, used imagination to process his anger.
The New York Times named Sendak ‘one of the most powerful men in the United States’ because of his ability to engage a child’s imagination.
Sendak’s magic relates directly to his own childhood. A child of immigrant parents, he was frail and sickly. He spent much of his youth homebound. His view of the world was largely fashioned from books and from what he could see looking out his bedroom window.
During an interview about his latest book, ‘Mommy?’ he was asked if there is one theme to his body of work. Sendak’s ready answer: ‘Life is scary, little child, but you will survive.’
What an important message wee ones need ‘ especially at bedtime ‘ that they can get the better of the monsters in their lives.
Many great works of literature and art have their origins in sad or sickly childhoods.
Charles Dickens believed that the deprivations of his youth brought him great advantage as a writer because ‘it strongly inclined me,’ he reflected, ‘to reading.’
Kierkegaard, the Danish theologian, believed his sickly and misshapen body was an asset in preaching, because it helped his audience listen instead of admire. It kept their ears on the message instead of their eyes on the messenger.
We choose to use our disadvantaged childhood as an excuse ‘ a crutch ‘ or, like Maurice Sendak, opportunity to stand in solidarity with fellow sufferers.