Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wild Freedom and Overflowing Spirits

Journal No. 15
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Zitkala Ša

From "Impressions of an Indian Childhood"

I. "Loosely clad in a slip of brown buckskin, and light-footed with a pair of soft moccasins on my feet, I was as free as the wind that blew my hair, and no less spirited than a bounding deer. These were my mother's pride, - my wild freedom and overflowing spirits."

II. Zitkala Ša is describing a seven-year-old girl who is free-spirited, even as her mother weeps.

III. Ša's introduction to this free-spirited little girl gives the reader a sense of eternal naivete. The little girl has just witnessed her mother crying and is wondering what makes her so sad. Quickly, the mother wipes the tears away and tells the child not to worry about the tears- never to worry about the tears. The mother then challenges the little girl to run as fast as she can. Just like that, the little girl has picked up the invitation to run and sprints around until she can't catch her breath anymore. She has quickly forgotten that there might be something to be sad or concerned about. She has instead replaced it with joy and delight.

The freedom and light-hearted spirit that this little girl has is what makes children's spirits so amazing. The ability to go from something uncomfortable, painful, or even tragic and then to be able to suddenly (at least for the moment) overcome it with laughter and play is almost magical. While children are quite observant, they can also be very resilient. They are able to take in the world around them, even the bad stuff, and filter out the things that they sense are harmful to their hearts and minds. While this is obviously a great "survival" skill, it can get to a point where it can also prevent children from learning how to cope with certain types of situations. Today, there are many children who grow up to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues that lack in reality-based coping. As a parent, how do you know what to do to encourage your children to play and laugh and learn while dealing with stressful and possibly traumatic incidences in their lives? If they bear witness to life's ups and downs, how do you encourage them to balance the weight of it with the importance to live life?

When I see children that are engaged in the world and who want to run and be free, I can't help but smile. They are happy children who don't feel like there is an ending or that there can be something to turn things upside down. They feel like life still has so much to offer to them. There is much left to learn. Their naivete is something that, once you become an adult, you never gain back. When is the last time that you ran through a stranger's lawn just to get to a sprinkler? I'd pick that over "dealing" with pain and loss any day. Can't we just go back to being kids again?


Scott said...

20 points. Like so many of your journals, this one is well worth pausing over. I hope you keep blogging long after this class ends.