The above is a quote from one of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, written, I believe, for his young son. In political outlook and the like, Kipling was actually pretty diametrically opposed to most of the things I most believe in; but the man had some turn-of-phrase. Poems, short stories, nearly everything I’ve ever read by him, I either liked or loved, if not for the sentiments expressed, for the way they were expressed. But more often than not, I love the actual story, as well, because the emotional impact is so high (even when the morality you’re being spoonfed is very much not to ones taste) …but you can’t tell me there’s not a lot to admire, in a lot of the man’s works. Example: I will not be judged for my love of the story Rikki Tikki Tavi, because that mongoose is a BOSS.
The reason I’m quoting the above, however, has to do with the phrase itself, rather than one of Kipling’s stories. In “Just So Stories for Little Children,” the phrase is used to denote a time when everything was unfolding, the laws of nature hadn’t been fully worked out yet, the animals exist but are still finding their feet (paws, tails, the wrinkles in their skin) and thus, things go a bit off-course from time to time, but they work out okay in the end. I always liked the idea of the earth being new, and fresh, and bright; of there being an air of expectation about the world, and a receptiveness to the idea that things might change, eve suddenly, and that’s fine too. I didn’t deal very well with unexpected change, as a child–but I hoped for a time when maybe I would.
That time is upon me now, it seems. At the age of 31, I have finally learned, at least occasionally, that activities can change, or be added, or be taken away, without ruining the construction of the whole (the whole being my life). I have begun several new projects lately, and while they have all been hit and miss, I have both the feeling that there are more hits than misses, AND that the misses are not catastrophic events. When a thing happens that I did not expect, apparently, I can sometimes roll with it, take it as it comes, and carry on, more or less unscathed.
Is this what being an adult is like? Is this feeling that one wrong move will not destroy me… maturity?
I don’t know, but whatever this liberating notion is, I shall cultivate it. For maybe the first time in my existence, I really feel like all of the following is true: I’m not a victim of circumstance, my choices are my own, I have various options to choose from, and whatever happens, no one needs to worry for me, because I’ll be alright in the end. This, chickadees… this is real freedom. Not the freedom that’s just another word for, nothin’ left to lose (thank you, Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin) but… freedom that literally means, “I can move around with relative confidence in myself and the world around me.”
In the privacy of my first-ever own home, I started singing the song below over a decade ago, when I left the safety of my mother’s house to make a new life half a world away… and, like a self-fulfilling prophecy you can only mention to yourself, it’s finally started to come true. It *is* like a brave new world (that has such creatures in it–and they are my friends, for the most part!) and I wish to live forever, in this world that is so brave and new and all.