Writer’s Island Journals Prompt #7 Describe the future
In the course of growing up, each of us goes through what is called the Socialization process. We learn, are taught to be good useful members of the group. Our teachers are many and varied, ranging through our parents and siblings, to school teachers, as well as our immediate peer group. In other words, we learn how to belong, how to conform our individual self so that we can be members of the group. We are taught, sometimes silently, sometimes through direct communication, what is appropriate behavior inside of the group. If we conform, we are rewarded with membership, belonging. And remember that the desire to belong is hardwired into our very system. We learn how to become social entities, taking on the norms of the society in which we find ourselves. We become civilized.
Each group, in turn, creates and adheres to its own set of rules, actually building its own individual personality. That is true across the board. And they, the group, must in turn, learn the appropriate behavior which allows it to belong to, and interact with, the larger groups of society as a whole. Sounds really complicated and complex, doesn’t it? It is. Especially to a five year old child trying to figure out his/her world and how she/he fits into that world, how it all fits together. Our ability to understand develops in increments throughout this process of socialization, and certainly beyond the age of five. Yet research tells us that each of us, by about the age of five, has created a worldview, a structure that informs us of how the world works and our particular place in it. What behaviors we must display in order to belong, both now and in the future.
Needless to say, we don’t get the whole picture, and we might never get that if we remain locked into that five year old’s incomplete concepts. Many of us do just that. We actually refuse to give up what we learned about how to cope in the world we find around us. Thus, I would venture to say, each of us, at some point in our existence, feels like we don’t quite fit in, don’t quite measure up to those rules that pertain to the world at large and a sense of belonging to it, or in it. That is when we come to know that we might possess a Wild Thing, a creature that remains outside of the boundaries and rules of the society to which we desire deeply to belong. That is also the point when we make a choice.
That choice is whether or not to allow that Wild Thing inside of us to go on existing. We may deny it altogether, simply cut it out of our realm of understanding or acknowledgement. If we can’t, or don’t allow ourselves to see it, it doesn’t exist, isn’t real, right? Hope you are smiling here, as much as I am. We may shut it away from our view, but that doesn’t mean it dies, gets lost, or goes away to live and play in someone else’s backyard. If only it were that simple, that easy. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes that nothing is ever completely lost from the individual human psyche. So what happens to that piece, or part of us, we might choose to deny? It lives and breathes and continues to grow, albeit in the darkness to which we have assigned it, but it does continue. And, as often happens, when it grows to the point that it needs more room, space, light and air to breathe, it might very silently creep up behind us and bite us in the butt for keeping it in the darkness all of that time, for refusing it, thus ourselves, a foreseeable future.
Personally, I can’t think of a more persuasive reason for doing and keeping a journal that privately allows me to explore the possible inner wilderness that exists right here inside of me. Get to know what Wild Things might be growing in my own little garden. I know they exist, have felt them nipping at my heels on occasion. Does that mean I am suggesting that there might be more than one Wild Thing inside of that inner landscape? It certainly does. A Wild Thing is alive, and because it is, it will seek out other life, reproducing and recreating itself, building a group that then conforms to its own established rules, again, in the present, and for the future. Oh my.
Imagination. What is it, and how does it work? I have not completely changed the topic. Each of us has an imagination, the ability to see what might not exist in our reality, what might only be possibilities, the maybes and the what ifs that help us build, to even begin to describe, define a future for ourselves and our world. Our imagination, constitutes a large part, possibly all of that inner wilderness of which I am speaking. It is there that creativity lives and exists. And it is from there that we ourselves and our very souls are fed, nurtured, and learn what we must do to start building a future in which we can survive. If that is true, can you possibly argue against the necessity of exploring that wilderness and making, if not friends, at least some sort of acquaintance with its inhabitants?
This is an integral, as well as large portion, of who and what we are. Can we afford to ignore or deny it? Have you felt that Wild Thing inside of you? Felt its restlessness, its need to grow, its hunger for more of life with all of its possibilities, present and future? Does it push itself up against the fence built to keep it contained, restrained, captive? Do you hear, or have you ever heard, even an echo of its howling for more freedom? If you have, have you simply dismissed it, ignored how it makes you feel, think, imagine? That is the voice of self calling to self. Will you go on denying it and perhaps, you own future? Or will you learn, teach yourself, how to listen now and into whatever comes?