2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Magic, or You Can Be Six Again

Outside the window
The pure white mountain
Is calling to us.
I hurry into my coat.
“Come on, Daddy!”
Up the hill we climb –
Sled in tow;
My daddy and I,
Ready to race down
The mountain of snow.
We run inside,
And laughing,
Sipping hot chocolate
And planning another run.

I wrote this poem when I was a senior in high school (yes, M.E. and Lynn, this is the day I trot out Stained Glass and capitalize on the T-Man!). I stumbled upon it the other day when I was looking through the books on the shelves above my desk in the study (yes, I will do almost anything to avoid writing some days). There are three shelves, containing reference books, a smattering of books I wish I had written, books about writing, the meager “collection” of things I have written (a pathetic attempt at journal-keeping from the Chicago years, my book of story ideas, and the aforementioned poetry booklet, Stained Glass, from high school) and mementos/inspirational objects. I pulled it off the shelf, wondering whether there might be an literary gems I could mine for profit or inspiration (highly unlikely, but still, one never knows now does one?) and found the four poems I had submitted. Of all of them, this one made the strongest impression on me (I may incorporate the others into other posts – in progressively more overwritten order, perhaps – for your entertainment. Then again I may not. Teehee).

In reading it, I realized that as a child of seventeen I had managed to accomplish what I feel like I spend a lot of frustrated time trying to do as an adult of thirty-MGRHPM: I had managed to capture and translate a moment in time for someone else (in this case my adult-self) to perceive. As I read the words, I can picture my navy blue bib-overall snowpants and my winter coat with the fur around the hood. I can feel the wind-burn on my red cheeks and how cold my toes would get in my moon boots, despite the two layers of socks my mother always made me wear. I can see my dad pulling my wooden sled with the red metal runners through the snow; can visualize the winding tracks twining their way behind us as we trudge through the powder. I can hear the snow-dampened silence – that quiet that you only get when the world is covered with a blanket of snow when everything is so absolutely and perfectly still that you actually hear the absence of sound. I can taste the almost too-sweet hot chocolate, feel the clumps of chocolate powder on my tongue (I always ended up with chocolate powder clumps because I could never wait long enough for it to all dissolve) and the hard nubs of mini-marshmallows not quite melted. In an instant, I am six years old again.

This is what I love about writing and words. They are magic. With just fifty-three words, I made myself young again and traded my living room and laptop for a sled and a snow-covered hill. This is why I want to write – I want to help other people drift away from their own lives, even if only for a few moments, and discover (or rediscover) something they forgot or never knew or forgot they ever knew. This is why I read, why I get so excited about new authors and new books. I want to know what they are trying to tell me, trying to share, trying to remind me of – I want to live in their world for a short while and experience things through their eyes and their perspectives. What better way to understand the world and our own place in it than by witnessing it from as many angles as possible? And what better way to understand ourselves than through occasional reminders of who and where we have been?

Magic is all about illusion, the ability to spin something from nothing; this is exactly what the best storytellers do and what I hope to be able to do in my own way. The modern world is sadly short on magic, in my opinion, as well as sadly short on understanding. Maybe the world needs more stories (and more storytellers) reminding us what it is to be six years old again – reminding us that there is always magic to be found, and that it is often found in unlikely places. Like the third shelf above the desk. 🙂

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