Yes, in 1952 I “discovered America” although I also soon realized there were a lot of other “Americans” here already! Edgar Simmons once wrote, “We rattle the world for our babies” and early in 1952 the annual “rattle” took place and I fell to the earth in the sticks of central Arkansas.
It was a “discovery” and adventure; and continues to be. This is an amazing world that we live in. For example, at this very moment I am sitting in what I call my “bird theater” and watch junkies, sparrows, titmice, cardinals, and two or three varieties of woodpeckers raucously queue up for their moment at the bird feeders, cavorting about in the blowing snow as they wait their turn. Suddenly I am a child again and can “feel” on some level again the marvelous beauty that the world has for children before they get fully ensconced in the mundane. That was the time when my heart was still made of “penetrable stuff” and had not been “bronzed o’er” with the “damned custom…(that is) proof and bulwark against sense (or feeling).”
Now, of course, I employ my “literary license” here to recall these moments as there was no cognitive apparatus there to “remember” them with. That contrivance would come later and with it would come a more routine, mundane appreciation of the “beauty” I saw…and felt…at that time. And I use the word “felt” deliberately for early in our life we are a “feeling state” and are constantly soaking up the impressions which will stick with us for life and which will formulate the core of our identity, the roots of that unconscious domain that shapes our life. And, now, I do sense that I have some awareness of that phase of my childhood, some intuitive grasp of how the world appeared back then.
And on that subject, I don’t think I really liked much of the world…or at least the “human” part. I found all “those rules” baffling and overwhelming and preferred to stay safely tucked away in my little uroborus. I mean, there were so many of “those rules” and how could I ever get them “all” right; and, of course, being a budding narcissist, I had to get them “all” right, didn’t I? And, I might add that I’ve spent my life trying furiously to accomplish this goal but have found enough Grace in recent years to give up the quest, to humbly realize just how silly, vain and “narcissistic” it was in the first place. I really think that I felt so “judged” by the world I was discovering, and judged so disapprovingly, that I had to be “right” to compensate and the only way I saw that I could do this was to master all of the rules. Meanwhile, I was also immersed in a Jesus culture in which I was nearly almost daily about God and His mercy and forgiveness; and though I came to say I believed it all, I actually didn’t believe a word of it, did I?! The only way I felt I could be forgiven was to “be right” and that meant to follow the “rules.” When that facade began to fade decades later, I referred to it as the loss of my, “ruined, rural righteousness.” And, I might add, that in spite of what I was being “taught” by my “Jesus culture”, the subtext of that teaching was a dictate to do just as I was doing—Be Right!
Come to think of it, there is another character flaw—I’ve always had a hard time focusing on what was going on, preferring to focus on what was going on beneath the surface, in the “subtext.” I almost wonder if I had some version of ADD?