Remember the days when you were a child and the world held endless possibilities, free from the weight of fiscal responsibility, the obligation of being punctual, if not early, to one’s job, and your imagination really was the limit? I was sitting at work today and was struck by the quote from Alice in Wonderland (2010) where the Mad Hatter (played by Johnny Depp) tells Alice, “You used to be much more…”muchier.” You’ve lost your muchness,” and it really got me to thinking. I dare say that I’ve lost some of my muchness as well; that inner spark and fearlessness that I used to have as a child, and I know many of us could probably say the same.
I know that when I was young, there were no set rules (other than the ones highly ‘recommended’ by my parents) and growing up was something you were told to do by other kids who thought they were more mature than you. Right… In the days of climbing trees, scraped knees, summers with sprinklers and above ground swimming pools, we were the masters of our domain and there was nothing we couldn’t do. What happened to the days of running rampant in the backyard with a handful of other kids playing cops and robbers or hide-and-seek or clambering all over the playhouse (which we also turned into a spaceship on a whim) handmade by your parents? I know everyone has different childhood experiences but there is magic in being young that sometimes fades or gets lost in time.
For those who somehow managed to remain a child at heart, I applaud you most heartily, and am glad that you have not lost the ‘muchness’ that we all have inside of us. As for the rest of us, I refuse to believe that it is truly lost; only misplaced or hiding and waiting to be found. No matter how much we’re bogged down by the weight of our responsibilities, should we choose to shoulder them, there is always room for that inner spark that burned so brightly within us in our younger years. Just because the dreams of then didn’t happen as we thought they might, doesn’t mean they can’t still. It’s never too late to look for it anew and it is certainly not out of the question to pursue what you once thought or believed in, especially if your current existence could use a slight adjustment or two.
While some of my dreams have fallen to the wayside, transforming as I’ve grown older, that’s not to say that I abandoned them wholeheartedly either. Admittedly, the first thing I wanted to be growing up was a veterinarian because I loved animals which transitioned into a desire to own a ranch, due to my fascination with horses, and the ‘ideal’ changed over time. Some kernels remain, like me still wanting to own a ranch however impractical that is at present, and some have been set aside with the knowledge that it’s not something I want to do anymore, if I ever really did to begin with. I don’t mention writing here so much because it’s never something I considered a profession early on, largely because I did it because it was fun and I enjoyed it, and still do. But like so many things, the secret desires of our childhood, whatever they might be, are often times put away in a box somewhere, the lid tightly closed because there are bills to pay, mouths to feed and a job to maintain.
Personally, I am always inspired when I watch Alice in Wonderland and while I would love to be able to grab a Vorpal sword and go slay the jabberwocky, I’m afraid any victories I claim will probably be considerably more subtle. It would definitely be wonderful to be able to reclaim one’s muchness as effectively as Alice did in the movie but for most of us, that’s not feasible; at least not all at once. Still, even if it’s only in snippets of existence; mere moments of time where we can relinquish ourselves to the magic and adventure we once reveled in, it is a step in the right direction.
I continue to maintain there is never enough time in a day to do everything I want, or am obligated to do, all the time, but if I have managed to remove myself from the day to day affairs of life in the now for even just the time it took for me to watch an episode, a movie, or read one chapter in a book, then I have reclaimed at least a fragment of that fantasy world I lived in as a child. Fantasy or not, I don’t believe it was ever foolish, as some might tell you otherwise. I may not play with horses and dolls anymore or run around with the boys wielding plastic or wooden toy guns but I’ve found little bits of my inner child, peeking out behind the walls I’ve built around her. She shows up when I least expect it, most notably in my dreams where she runs completely wild and anything and everything happens. Those are the best dreams, by the way, when I become the Superhero or Princess of my own story, and once again I know no bounds.
So, as Alice also said, “Lost my muchness have I?” shortly before she crossed the head filled moat to go rescue the Mad Hatter, I would challenge myself (and you if you feel similarly) to find my muchness as well. “I (you) make the path.” I don’t know that I’ve got the energy to run around and play like I once did, but I think I’ll go ahead and open the door in my head and heart so that she can do so for me. If yours doesn’t like to drop ideas while you’re writing, that’s completely fine too. Maybe he/she just likes to marvel at the majesty of nature and the world around us, or puzzle out the ‘why’ behind science or the way things work. Who am I to say?
I’m still learning, little by little, to listen to the inner voice I told to be quiet for several years. In retrospect, I find that I’m happier letting her speak, even if I don’t always listen. J So for now, thank you for reading and good luck in finding your ‘muchness’ if you haven’t already, at any rate.