You guys are going to get sick of me talking about Neil Gaiman. I’m just going to put that out there right now. I’ve kind of become a little… fascinated? Obsessed? With the man’s work since I met him last week. I really do regret now that I didn’t say more to him when I had the chance. But I just didn’t know what to say, and I still don’t, honestly. He has fans that have been around longer and read a lot more of his work than I have. What could I have said that he hasn’t already heard? I actually did try to rectify this. I filled out the form on his website to contact him, which they promise he does see, but may not answer. I explained that I had been at the signing and regretted that I hadn’t said much but didn’t know what to say. Then I said all I really could say – “thank you for being who you are and doing what you do”.
Anyway, I’ve already talked about the signing, so let’s move on from that. As I mentioned in the last blog post, I had started reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane the day of the signing, and I managed to finish it this weekend. It’s not too long, only 192 pages. But it doesn’t need to be long. It’s kind of a simple story, in a way. And I liked that about it. It’s a simple but beautiful story about childhood. The best way to describe it is that it’s a story for adults about childhood. It’s an intriguing story, and obviously told very well by a master at storytelling. But it left me thinking about not only the story itself, but what it’s really about. I mentioned above that it’s a story for adults about childhood. Basically, the story is told from the point of view of a seven-year-old boy who has grown up to be an adult and is remembering his childhood. But the child’s version of the story is told in such detail that it makes you remember what it was like to be a child, which is probably what I loved most about the book.
I can’t say that I have much in common with the seven-year-old in the story (I actually just realized that I’m pretty sure his name is never mentioned anywhere in the book). Well, wait, maybe I can. One quote from the book that I loved and keep posting everywhere since I read it is, “Books were safer than other people anyway.” That makes so much sense to me. I’m a self-confessed introvert and growing up I read a LOT. I learned how to read pretty early and I never really stopped. I didn’t read as much when I was in college, but now I’m starting to get back into it, and even worked at a bookstore for a short while. So that’s where I can relate to the kid in this story. But what I got most out of it was the remembrance of childhood. What it’s like to be a kid. How magical even the simplest things can seem. Looking at things as a child is so much different than looking at them as an adult, and somewhere along the line we gradually lose that and don’t even realize it. At least I didn’t. This book got me to thinking back about it. I remember things like spending every Sunday at my grandparents’ house and how I loved their backyard. It was somehow like a garden to me. There were trees and metal fences with gates and flowers… the way I remember it was like something out of a book. I’d probably see it now and it wouldn’t mean anything, just because I have seemingly lost that sense of wonder and imagination that comes with childhood. But, in a way, it’s kind of silly. Why don’t we keep that sense of wonder? It’s easy to get caught up in the reality of growing up. As we get bigger, things seem smaller. And we have more responsibilities and goals and we get all caught up in that. I don’t know about you, but I miss being a kid.
You know, we are forced to grow up. But growing doesn’t have to mean that we lose our imagination, our sense of fascination with the world around us. I mean, it’s still the same world. There are still beautiful things and magical things. Maybe we are just more used to them now. But does that mean that the world isn’t still beautiful? I mean, look around you. I don’t know about you, but I love where I live. I love the palm trees and mountains and the creatures that live here. I have people here that I love and that make me grateful to be alive. And I love imagination. I feel like mine has faded a bit, but I know imagination is still out there, thanks to people like Neil Gaiman. That’s why I can’t wait to read more of his stories. Maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to make my own wonder and imagination come back to life and I can somehow be like a kid again.