Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Elements of Me

Mirriam wrote about the little things from childhood that made her who she is this morning, and it was a fun and fascinating read. I usually feel like I should write something after reading Mir's blog posts, but this time she even said "Go for it!" in the post, so I am.

The following is a rambling (big surprise) list-ish thing of various influences from my childhood and growing up that have made me who I am today, with an emphasis on the things that make people say, "That explains a lot."

* My dad's humor: Dad has a strange mix of dry British wit and American slapstick. He introduced me to the Three Stooges and Mel Brooks and plenty of so-called "dad jokes" (which I honestly have never seen as being particular to fathers; they're just good humor). Despite that, it took me a long time to appreciate a good pun, but now that I do, I can joke with the best of them (aka Dad).

* The Smoky Mountains: This was our family's favorite vacation spot, and there's a large part of me that knows exactly what Lewis meant when he described the mountains of heaven in The Great Divorce because I've been there in winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Autumn is my favorite season, and the mountains are a large part of that.

* Merlin and all things magical: I actually should probably back up and say "Disney" because the Disney movies and fairy tales I grew up watching have shaped my imagination in lasting ways. Disney was my first introduction to other loves like Merlin and the Arthurian legends, and classic books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

* Books, generally: My mom instilled a love of reading in my brother and me when we were very young and I've never lost it. I love reading, being read to, reading to others. Listening to books, watching movies adapted from books. Books on shelves, books in stacks. Kids' books, "grown-up" books, books of magic and imagination. Stories that grip the mind and soul and leave you changed.

* Narnia, specifically: While I came into the world of Narnia late compared to many of my Narnia-loving friends (I only read most of the books in 5th or 6th grade), it left a very noteworthy mark on me: I wrote my first novel because I wanted to write something as important as Narnia (achievable goal, yes?). While I had been writing small stories and creating worlds before, that novel was a gateway to a calling and I haven't stopped writing and plotting and imagining since.

* Moving: We moved a lot in my middle school, high school, and college years. I learned to adapt and be at home quickly.

* Myths: I don't remember encountering mythology before 3rd or 4th grade when I found a book of Greek myths in the school library. They took hold of my imagination and I've since discovered the tremendous wealth of folklore and myth the world has to offer.

* Heroes: Tarzan, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Aladdin, Prince Philip, Miss Bianca, Cinderella, Merlin, Dorothy, Caractacus Potts - just to name a few. I grew up watching brave people fight evil and win in the name of love and truth. My idea of a hero has developed since then but it still owes a lot to those characters from my youth.

* Nature: Dad is an outdoorsman. He always took care to show us something new when we were outside and teach us the name and uses of plants and how to spot animals and their tracks. We watched storms and went crabbing on moonlit beaches. We hunted in early gray mornings and fished on hot afternoons. He taught me to appreciate the world around me.

* Quotes: Somewhere in my childhood I started relating to my family, friends, and the world at large via movie quotes (music and book references too, but mainly movies). It became a shibboleth of sorts for Wesley and me: we knew who our people were based on which quotes from our everyday conversation they recognized, how easily they slipped into our brotherhood.

* Horror: I love watching black and white horror films (or old films in general). They can, at their best, evoke all the right emotions of fear, love, anguish, righteous anger, and triumph. They have true heroes and clear villains. Struggling people stuck in the terrible place between saved and lost. And best if all they expose human nature in all its depravity without reveling in that depravity.

So that's just a glimpse into the things that make me who I am. What would your list look like?

1 comment:

  1. It was meant to be that way now wasn't it. Love you son.


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