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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, to be a child again

Last night, as I tucked my son in bed and read him "The Grinch That Stole Christmas," I kept glancing up at the underneath of the bunk above us. He always chooses to sleep on the bottom bunk. Lying there, I realized why he loves sleeping there. I had a flashback to our tour of Windsor Castle in London and the King's Chambers. Kings slept in beds with canopies and curtains. A cocoon. A den. A place of solitude created by fabric and artificial barriers. Most newborns can't sleep unless they're wrapped up like a burrito.

There is something about a peace mandated by the environment. Where you're surrounded and must surrender to the boundaries imposed on you. To curl up in peace knowing that you're covered. Restrictions that create liberties. That allow you to succumb and relax because you're safe.

As Americans, we love our liberties. Our freedoms to speak, live, and define ourselves. The Freedom of Speech. The Freedom of Press. The Freedom of Religion. The Right to Bear Arms. The Right to a Fair Trial. The Freedom from Search and Seizure...and so it goes. We have so many blessed freedoms, which we love and we give immense gratitude to those who fight for them.

But sometimes we wish for boundaries. For someone to swaddle us in a blanket and tell us what to do. After a lifetime of choices, we want to surrender to someone else's decision-making. Because despite our desperate desire for autonomy and freedom, sometimes we just want to rest in the safety of someone else's decisions. Someone else's wisdom. Because freedom requires an energy and stamina that can exceed our hopes and desires. Now, I'm not advocating for dictatorship or monarchies. They breed abuse and greed. I love our country and our freedoms. I simply wish sometimes for the simplicity of childhood where dictates define safety.

Writing might seem like the ultimate freedom of expression. We can create worlds, characters, situations and conflicts. We decide what happens with each of these. But the freedom isn't absolute. Once our work is complete, it must pass through the hands of beta readers, editors, agents, and you--the reader--who skims the back cover or the first few pages and decides whether to keep reading.

Over this holiday season, may you find rest and peace in the safety of your own cocoon.

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