When I was little, the world was big. Everything about it was big. But I didn't know the difference, because big was something I had never been.
It would be good to go back again for an hour or so - I wouldn't want to stay there - to see with the perspective of hindsight how totally different the world once was.I have a psychologist friend who explained to me why the experiences of our childhood have such a tremendous effect on us. Imagine, he said, how it must feel when your whole world was dominated by one or two people the size of Goliath.
Since your picture of the world was still quite small, the images you drew on your pictures took up a lot of space. When a huge building of a parent bends over and in a booming voice says, "YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!" you tend to believe him. On the whole, it's amazing any of us makes it into adulthood with any semblance of self esteem.
It is easiest to recall that timid, tiny time by remembering a specific place. Better yet, go back to that place, or a place like it, and imagine yourself the size you were when you were there.
If, for example, it was a kitchen, kneel down in front of the sink and notice how far away and difficult it is just to get a drink of water.
Stay down now, and remember the windows you couldn't look out of, the handles you couldn't reach, the high closets and the closed car doors. Did you ever, like me, use drawers as footholds to the intoxicating atmosphere of the counter top?
I like to go back to Grandma Smith's house in Draper. It is Sunday afternoon and all the big people are sitting in the front room talking.
I have no idea what they are talking about. It is as foreign as ketchup on ice cream. A fly, buzzing around on the floor behind the sofa, carries much more intrigue. At my size, I can crawl behind or under anything. From behind the sofa, the sound of voices is muffled and distant.
By the side of the sofa is one of those tall floor lamps. I have no idea what the top of it looks like, but I have its bottom memorized like the back of my hand. It has a clear onyx base with a little foot flip switch. I fiddle with it for hours, it seems, clicking it on and off. The pearly onyx glows.
It must make a noise, because from time to time a hand sweeps down from above and whaps my head against the sofa. This could get dangerous. I think I'll explore somewhere else.
Beyond a forest of feet, by the bright light that flows through the sheer curtains of Grandma's bay window, there is a fern stand of woven white wicker, and just enough room, when I lie on my back, to look up through the wicker at a sunlit pattern of light as exciting as a kaleidoscope. It spins with the slightest movement of my head. Green sparks of fern, interlaced with sunlight, sparkle like the ceiling of a rain forest. I can almost hear the monkeys and the parrots.
Squinting, this green and bright-white pattern of forest transforms itself into the view from the cabin of a spacecraft surging headlong into the sun. In Flash Gordon manner, the sun becomes reality, reality a mystery beyond all knowing, yet somehow on the edge of a remembrance. This pure consciousness of being is surrounded by a shell of muffled voices back at Grandma's house, voices that, despite their distance, assure me safe passage to the center of the sun.
All in all, the view from down under has its marvelous side, a side that, unfortunately, I will tend to step away from with time, as the world beyond Grandma's mystical fern broadens, and my penchant for imagining narrows into the normal, noxious boredom of big people.