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All That Fluffiness 12 September 2006

Posted by VARANGALI in Misc, Psychology, VARANGALI.

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air

– TS Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

What I miss most about childhood is that recurring sense of wonder: wonder at every thing new – a crowd, a cartoon, a new kitchen utensil, you name it. Everything seemed oversized, larger than life, shiny and new.

I remember, in kindergarten, being told that airplanes often stop in clouds to let passengers out to sit and enjoy the fluffiness for a bit. I imagined the texture, the floating, the cold and how I would need a sweater. The cloud was neither cotton candy nor slushy – I needed no metaphor – it was just wondrous and I could not wait to fly.

I still feel that sense of wonder, now and then. I felt it this past spring, staring up at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, or a few years ago, when I first walked through my undergraduate campus. But it isn’t constant and directed at even the ordinary, and that, in my mind, is the difference between childhood and growing up. It is a rapt acceptance of the extraordinary in the mundane, an innocence that I once had and no longer do.



1. Ibrahim - 12 September 2006

I would like to think that childhood wonderment is not a function of a less developed brain, but a spiritually superior condition in which innocence, sincerity, and freedom of jadedness permit the child to see the sacred purpose in a moth, the sheer existence of something in a fully purposeful realm, a sacred all.

Any case, I’ve been thinking about this, pining for “those” days. Nice post. An early Ramadan kareem.

2. The Turk - 14 September 2006

I agree, the joys of childhood play and wonder fade as we grow old. Now I give eidee instead of recieving it. It feels odd. And when younger, used enjoy shadee and functions because me and my cousins would run around play etc. Now I dread them; inane conversation and boredom usually. My best time now is spent talking with family & close friends.

3. kyla - 15 September 2006

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

– excerpt lifted from Song of Childhood by Peter Handke.

Have you seen the German movie “Wings of Desire”? It’s all about wonder and childhood and adulthood and how to find what you think you can’t find again as an adult because you’re too much an adult. It’s my favourite movie of all time. I first saw it in an Islamic Spirituality class in a fruity liberal arts univerisity. It’s absolutely wonderful. This poem is from that movie, which Peter Handke wrote. If you haven’t seen it, you must.

Pit-stops on clouds – I used to have a similar sort of fantasy about flying when I was a kid. I had a notion you could run around, though.

4. VARANGALI - 15 September 2006

Ibrahim, Turk, Kyla – thanks for your comments. Non-sequitur: I’m a big fan of fruity liberal arts universities/colleges.

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