Streetlight slipped past the slats of the Venetian blinds. My mind was uncharacteristically silent while observing the phenomenon–until I noticed the silence. The fascination about Venetian blinds began when I was still a toddler. A set of the blinds covered the window of my bedroom. I did not have a name for them, the tiltable slats were simply fascinating to ponder. I believe the Venetian blinds were the beginning of my love for mechanical things. At the very least, I made sure to install Venetian blinds on at least one window of nearly every apartment or house in which I’ve ever lived.
Whilst fixated upon the Venetian blinds on one of the windows in the den this past Sunday night, I mentally travelled back to my earliest memories–the memories without language and conceptual thinking. There were incomprehensible words without meanings. I had no opinions about current events nor existential matters. There was no concept of gods nor religions. Life just was. There were colors without classifications and names. Sounds that frightened or soothed. Smells and tastes to explore. There were two people who took care of me, but I did not know the concept of parenting.
Outside of my little room beyond the Venetian blinds, was the frontier without a name. It was a home with wheels–I was unaware of other types of homes. The outdoors was an even bigger frontier. There were many other nameless things to see and try to make sense of. There was sunshine, cloudiness, wind, cold, and heat. Of course, the environment was nameless. There were animals and plants of many sizes and temperaments.
I eventually learned to form English words that mom and dad taught through visual association. I knew a few Japanese words that my Japanese nanny spoke in my presence. The world of stuff and concepts became defined and communicable. This development brought more joy and also worry. The process of socialization continued as words and labels were fed into my consciousness.
The first friend who was not a family member was a boy of similar development. He lived in a trailer next door. I do not remember his name anymore. I only recall that we laughed about nothing in particular and he wore white socks with sandals on chilly days. I wonder what became of that first non-family pal.
All was not rosy and sweet in the neighborhood. There were bigger boys on a makeshift playground. They were playing a game with a bat and a small white ball. I wandered towards the kids to learn more about them. Maybe they could be friends, too. After they noticed me, they laughed and chased me away. That first conscious case of rejection happened at perhaps three or four years of age. I don’t remember the aftermath. Perhaps mom comforted me. Maybe I retreated to my room with the Venetian blinds.
Despite the stinging rejection, life continued to be happy and mostly free. There was no agonizing, constant agony nor existential concerns. I’m told that my constant questioning about things and ideas I encountered nearly drove my parents crazy.
The time arrived to attend public school and then religious sunday school. Thus began further conceptualization and the first tastes of repression and institutional control. The conflict between learning and power, manifested as overarching, serious restriction. The indoctrinations signaled the end of innocent childhood freedom.
My attention snapped back to the present moment. I wondered how long I’d become lost in reverie. My memories are all my own–words are insufficient to fairly describe them. Personal freedom is my refuge and my greatest pleasure. This freedom has no doctrine and requires no faith. Political quarrels are vain distractions and traps to tempt and imprison the soul. Freedom becomes more palpable when I let go of my attachments to view.
It is healthy to remember the freedom of our childhood we enjoyed; while not being childish about doing so. At least this works for me whenever it’s time to break free of struggle. Meantime, you go ahead and do whatever allows you the ability to break free to become your true self.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Columbian journalist and writer, Gabriel García Márquez. “The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.”