The View From Plum Lick
I should like to recapture how I saw the world when I was 5 years old.
That would have been before computers, chat rooms, schools, super stores, and television. I mean, before they had a chance to get hold of me.
That would have been before building blocks, ABCs, multiplication tables, longhand, or long division. It would have been well before pink bicycles, plastic television, and electronic war games.
This would have been two years before what grownups like to call the “age of reason.” Generally speaking, this means the beginning of the time of “think as we think, do as we do.”
Okay, so how was it when I was 5 years old?
In the first place, there were more kerosene lanterns and candles than there were electric outlets. In the mid 1930s rural electrification was still down the road a ways.
So, we made the most of sunlight—for instance, paying close attention to schools of minnows evading seines and swarms of tadpoles frothing to be frogs.
Likewise, we were on the lookout for robin scouts and purple martins, seeking their company, not their displeasure. Our home was their home.
True, when it was time for formal schooling we welcomed the ride on the bigger-than-life school bus. It was the bully we couldn’t abide. That would be the one who clawed to the head of the line, the one that liked to begin each conversation with a punch on the end of the nose. Where did they learn that? Surely not from parents.
I don’t remember my fifth birthday. I’m not sure if anybody else remembered it, which is just as well. Probably I was like the minnow and the tadpole—swimming in waters of live and let live.
Hormonal seeds had been sown, but they were asleep in the loins of innocence—everything in time, sweet time. The call to love and war had not been heard.
Pre-school was before kissing, greed, and acquisition. Who knows, if the 5-year-old mind could be bottled, there might not be so much strife, so much heartache.
Well, let’s, as they say, “Get real.”
Minnows and tadpoles can’t resist change. Mother Nature has a plan called development, for lack of a better word. The challenge is to improve the process.
Progress is built on what S.I. Hayakawa titled his 1939 book, Language in Action. On pages 236-240 is the story of the rat and the closed door. The laboratory creature refuses to unlearn that for which he has been rewarded for learning.
Closed minds, like closed doors, lead nowhere.
At age 5, we human beings, I should like to think, have not yet closed mental doors. Nor have adults slammed them shut in our behalf. Unless, of course, the child is abused with too many “toys.”
Education takes a huge step forward with the introduction of the written word. Five-year-olds will become 6- and 7-year-olds, and the journey will be better taken if the days are traveled through a landscape of thinking, reading, and writing.
If the minnow or the tadpole could do either of the three they would stand a better chance of not being seined or gigged.
When I was 5 years old, no one told me not to disturb ant hills. I was at peace with Mother Nature’s creation. Likewise, song birds would not be molested.
Now that I am 5 years plus 72, I am hoping I’ve learned and prospered from the lessons of adolescence. I don’t mean reverting to the awkward age of childhood. I do mean softening the blunt edges of my crass behavior.
That means giving others the benefit of the doubt, not rushing to judgment, giving credit where credit is due—adds up to resisting the temptation to be taking myself a little too seriously.
Like the 5-year-old, the minnow, and the tadpole, I strive to be at peace with the world.