I often talk about how my 2-year old is my ultimate guru. Well, tonight she got me with another zinger. I glanced over and noticed she was entranced in a book. This book was no Dr. Seuss classic. She’d gotten into Mommy and Daddy’s books and was thumbing through an illustrated collection of artwork for the Germanic Pagan offshoot of Christmas — Krampus.
See. No big deal. Just chillin’. Like she’s thumbing through The Velveteen Rabbit or something.
What caught me first is the realization of how pure her mind is (for now). She doesn’t have much of a reason to be scared because no one has (yet) hooked her attention and told her ‘these things are scary’.
What also caught me soon after that was my initial internal reaction. I wanted so badly to crouch down and tell her how scary those things are. I wanted to say it in a dramatic tone and make that eye contact one makes when trying to scare someone.
This is how fears are passed on, socially. There are just things one should be scared of. And, being the father, I should express to my child what those things are so as to protect her, right?
Not the way I work…
I fought off that urge. Instead of frightening her, I sat down calmly next to her and looked over her shoulder as she turned the pages, tilting them so she could see the large, demonic creatures wielding chains and carrying away screaming children in the middle of the night. I pointed at one of the creatures and said, “Look, Rory. He’s got a long tongue, doesn’t he? And look at those funny horns coming out of his head. Silly, isn’t it?”
She looked at me, pointed at the thing and giggled.
In that miraculous moment, we were seeing something that could have been terrifying in a more real way. We were telling each other a different story about it. This was no demon. It was a funny looking thing with weird pointy horns sticking out of its head.
What Rory taught me was — what if we could look at our own demons like this?
What if we realized — really realized — that our reality is merely a projection from our mind onto the screen of our consciousness and that we choose what reel we play?
Maybe not always, but possibly more so than not. We can play the horror movie. Or the comedy.