I tried to escape as often as I could. The truth is, however, that I didn't have a bad childhood; my parents were (are) kind, encouraging and supportive, But as a child I always felt as if I didn't quite belong. I felt as if somehow, someone made a really big mistake and dropped me off on the wrong the planet. I wondered how I could find that place where I could be understood and where my dreams could manifest themselves. Eventually, I realized that my pad of paper was my escape. It was how I "sailed off through night and day" to a place where I could rule and call my own. Unfortunately, as rewarding as that is on a certain level, the truth is that one's mind is a terribly lonely place…as Max discovers, one cannot completely live in the land of dreams. The challenge is to find a way to sail back and forth between the realms with ease, and more importantly, to manifest those dreams in the "real world".
To this very day I still visit my personal, secret place. It is where my art comes from. I must go there to retrieve strange and wonderful and sometimes frightening inspirations. The struggle was (and is) to not abandon this place entirely. The land of maturity, money and pragmatics continually beckons. Once I became an adult I never wanted to live in the land of "grown ups"…I resisted it, I still resist it… to my detriment sometimes… to my benefit more often. Most of you are familiar with this biblical quotation:
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
To this I say "phooey". Instead I offer three personal commandments:
- I shall never abandon that special land across the sea where I can drink from a bubbling spring that makes me…me.
- I shall remain a child, of sorts…and be more of a child than I was, when I was a child.
- And…most importantly, I shall encourage others to never abandon their creativity, and to share their unique visions and explorations with the Universe.
Nothing, in my mind is more important.
I will never have the opportunity to meet Maurice Sendak, but if I had, I would have liked to tell him why he was so important to me. Of course, it is only after his death that I realize the profound influence he had on my life. So thank you, Maurice Sendak, for sharing with me your map to Where the Wild Things Are…I visit as often as I can.
Here are a few links you might find interesting
- Terry Gross tribute to Maurice Sendak http://www.npr.org/2012/05/08/152248901/fresh-air-remembers-author-maurice-sendak
- New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2012/05/maurice-sendak.html
- Rosenbach Museum and Library http://www.rosenbach.org/learn/collections/maurice-sendak-collection
- Set designs for opera http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/2012/05/death_of_illustrator_maurice_s.html