Tag Archives: innocence

Reclaiming Innocence

I had a dream about a week ago, in which a unicorn spoke to me. So, that’s my unfluffy cred spoiled for ever, but hey ho. It was a good sort of dream and I am not averse to unicorns. It said that the whole maiden and unicorn thing was a misunderstanding. It wasn’t about virginity, it was about innocence, and that’s something we make, and can reclaim. Innocence is not something you inevitably have to lose, or lose forever.

Part of the problem is that we muddle the concept of innocence up with ignorance and inexperience, as though all three words are interchangeable. They aren’t. Innocence is about not choosing to internalise all of the things that experience and knowledge bring. It is a deliberate dedication to not becoming cynical, jaded, and narrow.

I’ve put this blog in the ‘magical’ bit of the listings, because for me, a deliberate decision that informs your choices, perceptions, emotions and prospects, is without a doubt an act of magic. To choose innocence of soul is a magical act, and allows us to deal with the world in entirely different ways.

I met a girl, years ago, who had been kidnapped and abused as a child. She’d survived, and somehow, against all the odds, it hadn’t stuck to her. She had a sweetness of self, an ability to trust, and an open heart. In the face of horrendous experience, she had chosen, and kept in tact, her innocence.

We can decide that what happens to us, is who we are. I’ve been along the edges of that one, feeling worthless because I was treated as worthless, feeling defiled because of what had been done to me. I do not have to take anything into myself, I do not have to become the consequences of any particular experiences. I can choose. I can pick to be the consequence of open skies and good friendships, to be shaped by dancing barefoot on the ground, and laughing, and playing. It is a choice, and one that I cannot claim has been easy, or that I’ve always managed, but not letting the shit get in is a powerful thing.

When pain, loss and betrayal cut us down, it is so easy to start imagining all the world is made of hurt and there will only be evil. The more self protective I’ve been, the more remote I’ve been from the good stuff, from the nurturing, soulful, healing stuff. To let the good stuff in requires a degree of vulnerability, it isn’t without risk. That same vulnerability allows you to fall in love, wholly and unconditionally. Not just with people, but with cloud formations, the sound of flowing water, orchids in a meadow, owls calling, and all manner of other things. When you can, not just love that which is beautiful and around you, but keep on actively falling in love with it, being blown away and left gasping, being reduced to tears of awe and wonder, then that sense of mystery is ever present. There is an absolute sense of the magical, or possibility, and the numinous.

Innocence is the choice that enables us, perhaps not literally to see unicorns, but to stand a chance of not disbelieving one into invisibility if it did show up.


Against a dark background

On Friday I saw a memorably dramatic rainbow – the consequence of especially strong light against a really black storm cloud. The vivid colours owed everything to that combination. This is often the case. The combination of sunlight and cloud shadow at play across the hills creates the most dramatic views. It’s the clouds that make the sunsets rich and memorable too. Take out the darkness, and light on its own often doesn’t make a lot of sense.

This is one of the themes at play in Personal Demons, and Hopeless Maine generally. The light shows up better against a dark background. This is a literal truth with regards to the art – the glows, moons and magical lights are so much more vivid when there’s contrast. (www.hopelessmaine.com if you have no idea what I’m talking about). It’s true from a writing point of view as well. It’s difficult showing off courage, heroism or integrity to good effect if the setting is in pastel shades and mostly fluffy. The deeper the darkness, the more brightly lights shine in contrast to it.

Fiction is not the same as real life though. I am currently tempted to get that tattooed onto my forehead, because the inability of people who ought to know better to get their heads round this one is driving me crazy. Again. Fiction has narrative shapes and a coherence that life frequently lacks. On second thoughts, can I please be allowed to tattoo the words ’fiction is not the same as real life’ onto the forehead of the next person who hits me with this rubbish? Gah. Moving on…

In fiction seeing those contrasts between light and dark is rewarding. It emphasises story and character. Mostly in real life, experiencing the contrasts is an absolute bitch and I for one would be happy to give it a miss more days than not. Yes, the compassion of some shines out a lot brighter for the background of everything else. Yes, the wisdom of some shines forth in just the same way. Yes, I have a growing perspective on the difference, and no, I did not really want any of the dark half of the experiences that have shaped my opinion. I’d have been quite happy going through able to trust and think well of most people. It’s that old innocence/experience quandary again. I miss the state of innocence when I believed that the world was a better sort of place.

What I want is the world I used to believe existed, where trust was not the province of the naïve, greed was not good, and trying to do the right things for the right reasons counted for something. A world in which truth is respected, and people respect themselves enough to want to be truthful. A world in which money is not the be all and end all, and power is used to help, not to abuse.

And on that day, Satan will very likely be skating to work.
I keep coming back to the same issue, that I have choice, and I am not utterly powerless. That whole ‘be the difference’ mantra often seems to be an exercise in seeing how many different ways I can get myself kicked. But if I give up, I have given up and accepted that I can do nothing. I’m still not willing to do that, even though I am bone weary of the metaphorical bloody noses and rounds of getting crushed. I am so tired today, and so short of inspiration, and I feel like the cold has got right into my bones, and into my soul and the darkness of winter before me seems long and harsh too. But I’m not giving up. I’m not going to do anything of any great use today, I suspect, but just holding the idea, the possibility of getting up again and having another go is better than admitting defeat.

There are often more storm clouds than there are moments of beautiful light and glorious rainbows, but there are moments of glorious light and beautiful rainbows, and that is going to have to be enough.