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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Embracing the Inner Child

I didn't see Narnia here, but I did see
Alice in Wonderland.  This theatre would
make anyone feel like a kid again.
That's an awfully lofty and sort of New Agey title, isn't it?  Well, don't worry, I promise not to overwhelm you with childlike sentiment...

As regular readers will know, I am the dad of eight children - one daughter and seven boys.  You might also have gathered from various posts, that I, myself, was a rather odd child (OK, some would say an odd adult, too!).  My idea of a good movie as an eight or nine year old might have been a good documentary about JFK, or maybe something like Holiday Inn.  Of course, when I was eight or nine, to watch such a film required a visit to the local video store.  There, you chose from, perhaps, a couple of hundred titles and would likely have to rent a VCR to watch the movies.  The VCR's were large affairs, transported in even larger plastic cases lined with foam, and had to be returned in 24 or 48 hours.  How times have changed.  Now I can carry many of my favorite movies, ready to watch, in my pocket!

Back to my point...  When I was a child, there were few "kid's" movies that interested me.  Yes, I saw The Muppets Take Manhattan countless times, and was addicted to Bedknobs and Broomsticks for many years, but movies for the elementary set never really caught my attention.  You'd think that this would have lasted into my true adulthood, but I fear it's not necessarily the case.

Earlier this year, I very much wanted to see The King's Speech (I did, eventually, and it was a great movie).  Playing at the same time and in the same theatre, the rest of my family wanted to see, ugh, Gnomeo and Juliet.  Who on earth wants to sit through that?  Well, for reasons I cannot recall, I couldn't see The King's Speech and had to be dragged along to watch animated Garden gnomes make merry.  And, of course, I loved it.  I am not suggesting that it was a great movie by any intellectual or artistic standards, nor do I have less enthusiasm for my more serious films.  What I am saying is that I am so often wrong in my assumptions about what I will think is fun.  Really, it's nothing more than pretentiousness.  You see, generally, when I do go to the movies, I do end up seeing a kid's films.  And, just as generally, I usually find myself having a great time.  The company helps, of course, such outings with the kids are most often great fun, but the movies aren't bad, either.  And, even if they are awful, like Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which I saw today, it can still cast a little childish glow on the day.

If Disneyland could bring out the child in
Dick Nixon, imagine what it could do for you!

I hate pretentiousness.  I hate it especially because I am sometimes guilty of it.  Case in point...  Disneyland.  For years I had little interest in the place.  I'd far rather have traveled someplace more serious and historical.  However, in 2005, the opportunity to visit the "Happiest Place on Earth" presented itself and I made the trip.  Since then, I have been back five times and there isn't a time that I can think of when I wouldn't drop everything to go again.

So, what's my point?  Really, it's simple.  Having a bit of the childlike wonder that we all once had (some of us in smaller amounts than others) stay with us throughout our lives is a fabulous thing.  Not only will it keep us feeling younger, but it will allow us to enjoy a variety of experiences that we might otherwise write off as childish or beneath us.  It's also important that we not take ourselves too seriously.  If we can't see humor in ourselves and the world around us, we must be blind and, really, rather sad.  So, be dapper and dreamy, and invite that inner child out to play!

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