childhood

mannish boy

Some autobiographical notes regarding early childhood…

tyke

I was born when I was just a tiny little baby, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area & San Diego area.

As a young child, I wanted to disappear from the modern workaday commercial industrialized world.

I wanted to be a forest wizard hermit saint &/or elven prince, who lived in a hollow tree or lofty tree house and was married to a beautiful magical sylvan dryad, a forest nymph. I wanted to subsist on dew and berries.

I wanted to be a gentleman pirate, like Captain Misson, sailing the tropical seas, fighting colonial empires & merchant robber barons, righting wrongs, liberating slaves, living free, & marrying an island native princess or rebel governor’s daughter.

Somehow I thought that even in these modern times, I should be able to sail away and discover an unknown or forgotten semi-magical paradise island, live on fresh tropical fruits, wear only a sarong and flower garland leis & marry a native princess.

Whatever else I thought I “would be when I grew up” and whoever I married, I always thought my future sweetheart & I would be hermits together, living in the forest and at the seashore, but maybe also sometimes visiting libraries & museums, or going to the movies. (This came true.)

I wanted to be an Iroquois or other woodland Indian medicine man, living in tune with nature & in communication with the spirit world, eating corn, squash, beans, acorns and wild fruit, and healing the sick with herbs, prayers and the help of spirit animals.

I wanted to be Robin Hood, or a combination of Robin & his merry men—Alan-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, Little John, & Friar Tuck. I was in love with Maid Marion, and wondered why none of the girls or women in my real world were as wonderful as she seemed to be.

I wanted to be the legendary wandering minstrel & prophet-poet, True Thomas the Rhymer of Erceldoune (c1200-1298) who disappeared for seven years, having been kidnapped by the Queen of Elfland to be her lover, reappearing thereafter among human society, only to finally disappear once again, called back to Elfland by his sweetheart Faerie Queen.

I learned to read when 3 ½ years old from studying hiking trail signs at Yosemite.

I thought cursive handwritten script was magical random scribbling, legible only to those who attuned their mind to what the writer had been thinking when he or she had made the scribbles.

I thought everyone dreamed lucid dreams, everyone remained awake deep inside, silently witnessing their dreams and dreamless sleep, just as I also assumed they inwardly witnessed their waking thoughts, feelings, and perceptions from an innermost point of lucid stillness always present at the source of thought.

I assumed the insane curse of deadly toxic car pollution would end before I was a teen. I’d been told that mentally ill adults sometimes breathed concentrated car exhaust to kill themselves, and here we all were riding around in cars, or walking on the sidewalks of busy streets, breathing this deadly poison in a somewhat diffused form. Every adult seemed to have a car and all of us constantly breathed the poison exhaust which was spread everywhere. Surely this insanity would end as soon as possible.

I thought all or most adults were mentally ill, semi-blindly delusional, as if hypnotized into a kind of unpleasantly zombified daydream sleepwalking state, and that many if not quite all were potentially violently insane. I thought if I was too sudden &/or too loud when close to most adults, I might shock them into dangerous subconscious semi-automatic reactive violence, like spooking a mad dog or horse.

I thought if I inwardly focused my silent attention and mentally directed my good intentions toward them, my kindly regard might subversively stir at least the best of adults into gradually or even immediately waking up from the horrid spell they suffered from. I thought they would then be joyously and peacefully grateful for this compassionate spell-breaking and its wonderful results.

I thought I sometimes understood the language of birds. Wild birds sometimes landed on my head, shoulders or hands. I was certain they & some other wild animals could mostly read my friendly thoughts. I thought I could see some neighborhood dogs and cats smile at me.

I assumed somewhere there was a unique group of sane, wise, kindly adults in charge of caring for the world and daily making it run as well as they could manage, and that’s what kept it from exploding into smithereens or descending into total genocidal chaos.

I used to lie on my back between trees by day and by night and allow my sight and mind to become absorbed within the sky beyond the clouds and stars. I thought all children, and most nice adults, did this regularly. I thought this was something sane people knew was necessary to do regularly, like bathing, to remain healthy. Though often it took several minutes afterwards for me to come fully back from The Expanse enough to walk normally again.

Like with most little kids well-off enough to own one, my bicycle was my wingéd steed. I thought if I learned how to ride it just right, mentally/emotionally as well as physically, we would one day lift up and fly through the air, able to go anywhere in the world.

I loved libraries & museums, was luridly fascinated by downtown department stores, but found school extremely trying. Returning home from my first day of kindergarten, my parents asked how I had enjoyed my first day of school. I replied, “It was a madhouse!

I was always extremely romantically-&-sexually interested in women. Even when I was still far too young to have any knowledge or imaginings of actual sex, I always recognized & loved female romantic beauty, sexiness, personal magnetism, and attentive kindness. Conversely, while I recognized that some men were handsome &/or kindly &/or dashing, especially actors in movies & TV shows, it never occurred to me to be attracted toward any men or boys as objects of romantic or sexual interest. I have no idea how or why any of this was the case. I was extremely “horny” (emotionally hyper-sexed) and swoonily romantic from the earliest age, but only toward the particular women and girls I found especially appealing in this inexplicable way.

My ever-present interest in certain women and girls was usually both romantic and sexual. These two types of attraction didn’t necessarily always go together, but actually mostly did. And this is still largely the case. Of course I recognize(d) the mutual independence of both kinds of appeal — sexual, and romantic. But most of the time the only women I (have) found myself feeling any actual personal interest in as theoretical/imaginary, potential or actual “girlfriends,” have appealed to both my romantic and my sexual interest/desire at the same time, as two aspects of one appealing interest. I really like it this way, but it has always made life as complex/complicated as it has made it simple/ simplistic.

I always drew and painted pictures, and scribbled poems and stories, writing & illustrating my own “books,” even before I could read or write.

I drew my own male & female paper-dolls/action-figures, cut them out & played with them: various series of pirates, of Robin Hood & his merry men, of frontiersmen and Indians (including girlfriends or wives for most of the males), even paper-dolls of Jesus and some of his men and women and children followers. But my paper-doll Jesus mostly wanted to be alone with the birds in the garden or desert or just play with the paper-doll children.

As a young child, my biggest problem with history, mythology, literature, and with almost all the heroes I admired as they were presented in children’s books and through movies, TV, art, magazines, etc, was all the fighting in wars and the other brutality, including specifically all the hunting, fishing, and killing of animals including deer, birds, fish, etc. for the sake of sport-killing and/or meat-eating.

I found meat-eating repulsive and couldn’t understand or stand the fact that seemingly almost all adults and cultures all over the world from ancient times till now could & did engage in hunting &/or raising animals to slaughter them and then eat their dead bodies. It all seemed so grotesquely barbarous and bizarre as to beggar credulity. I think I have never gotten over the shock. I’ve remained a life-long vegetarian, mostly for aesthetic & compassionate reasons.

Only slightly later (still as a very young child) did I realize that adults, and again almost all cultures throughout history, had engaged in torture, almost constant warfare, and other such like violence (I still didn’t quite understand rape, nor marriage-as-bondage). These constant, daily, ancient practices of violence — of war & torture, and of hunting/fishing/ranching animals for torture/slaughter/meat-eating, — and the fact that many cultures, including our own American culture, had also engaged in slavery (though again, I didn’t quite understand sexual slavery), made me feel as though I had taken birth on a planet of the most evil and murderously insane mutants imaginable.

I felt that I belonged to a wholly other species of creature, from an entirely other planet or universe. I felt that I was wrongly, bizarrely cast adrift and washed up upon this strangely beautiful but nightmarish planet Earth as an orphaned exile,—not as punishment, but simply as a shipwrecked castaway.

I didn’t quite fully understand the relationship of cause and effect (karma), nor the mechanics of primordial ignorance (pragya paradh), I simply thought the denizens of this plane, including many children as well as virtually all adults were murderously retarded, ensorceled by evil magic, were perhaps themselves demonic in their acquired/perverted psycho-social nature with its strong tendency toward violence and indifference to the suffering of others, including animals.

It wasn’t the fact that we creatures all fell ill, eventually grew old, suffered horribly, and died, difficult as that was to comprehend; it was the gratuitous violence, hatred, anger, cruelty, greed, selfish indifference, narrow-minded superficiality, etc. that made me feel I was in a world overcome by a deep, huge, extremely evil form of wrongfulness, illness of mind and soul, insane derangement.

I still feel this way, though I have retained & furthered much of my early childhood love for the natural beauty of this planet and throughout a long life have grown very fond of many of the people living on this planet in the past and present.

I had realized before that first day in the “madhouse” that was kindergarten, that on a very basic level I was on my own, that most adults and children were of little or no understanding or help, and animals, and even trees, were often no “better” in practical terms of understanding and helping. I wanted to see this world be much better, much happier, than it appeared to be. I wanted, desperately, both to escape and to help; to disappear and to provide healing. This may all sound strange, but I have since known many persons who felt this way as children, who had many of these same thoughts.

Although the forms and formats of all these things have continued to change many, many times throughout my life, the underlying experience and orientation has always remained basically the same for me. I have grown to appreciate the play and display of the manifest world, including the mostly-deranged ways of humankind, as partial (and partially distorted & distortive) expressions of that larger, unified Reality that is at once the true innermost identity both of my own somewhat still-bewildered personal self and that of all other human and non-human persons, the true self-nature of all animate and ‘inanimate’ beings and things.

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