Thursday, 7 February 2013


As we get older, it seems to me that colours appear less vivid, flavours and smells less potent, our surroundings less able to make an impression on our consciousness.  Maybe that's why, when we think back to childhood, summers seemed longer and brighter and bluer, and winters were whiter and crisper and colder.  (Though that last part may have been down to the absence of central heating when I was a boy.)

Our senses are keener when we're younger, and more susceptible to the 'moods' with which each season of the year enfolds us.  Also, because we're more optimistic, enthusiastic and eager to experience each brand-new day, we perceive everything around us in a particular way that is peculiar to the period of childhood and adolescence, but which does not continue with us on our journey through adulthood.

Sometimes I look at a comic or toy and get a flashback to an earlier time in my life - and for the briefest of moments re-experience a more colourful, sharper, keener, livelier, brighter and better world than the one I wake up to each day as a grown-up.  It's almost like, as children, we have a special enhancer fitted to our senses, through which every experience is routed to deliver optimum impact.  However, this enhancer has worn out by the time we reach the end our third decade, and the world never seems quite the same again.

That's why Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc., appear to be but pale shadows of their former selves as we get older.  In fact, it's only the dim and distant memory of how such times were to us as children which lends any faint hint of magic or enchantment to current celebrations.  Without the glow of past years to illuminate our present ones, Christmases and birthdays would mean little or nothing to those of a certain age.

I can remember, as a child, standing at the top of the hill on which my then-house was situated, and the horizon seemed an almost infinite distance away, the sky a vast expanse of drifting clouds against an azure backdrop a million miles high, and my surroundings were easily able to accommodate visions of fairytale kingdoms of the kind depicted in story- book illustrations.  (I remember when I first read The HOBBIT as a 10 or 11 year old - the remote mountain I could spy from my back garden was surely the same Lonely Mountain under which the wicked dragon SMAUG's stolen treasure resided.)

Whenever I stand at the top of that hill on a visit to my old neighbourhood today, the sky seems far lower and the once distant horizon only a stone's throw away, encompassed by boundaries which, if they existed in the days of my youth, I never noticed.  Metaphorically speaking, once you start seeing the frame as well as the picture within, you know that you've run out of pixie dust.

Unfortunately, you only get provided with one portion in life - and it's not enough to last the journey.


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Kid, I know exactly of what you say.

You know what's cool though? Making sure those things happen for the children in our lives. To help them have opportunities for the experiences that we had as kids. When I made sure that Santa visited our house when my daughter was then 8, seeing the wonder in her eyes awoke my wonder again. And through my relationship with her, my wonder has stayed awake all these years!

Kid said...

Maybe that's my problem, Thom - I have no children in my life. Guess I never wanted any 'though.

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