POV: Thoughts.

Friday, October 24, 2014

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.  

In Chapter One of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, there’s a passage about how the children’s mother, Mrs. Darling, spends some period of time each night tidying the minds of her children, sprucing and straightening and setting things in order. 

“It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds nad put things straight for the next morning,” the passage reads. “If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this...you would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”
I came across this bit of the story while reading aloud to my niece one afternoon over lunch. Because I found it terrifying — and feared she would, too — I skipped over it entirely.

The other day, in the car on the way home from a weekend trip to Martha’s Vineyard, a song came on the radio. I want to look inside your head, was the refrain. 

“That sounds horrible,” I said. I remembered being afraid as a child that others could read my mind, or could know what I was thinking just by looking at me. Even when I was old enough to discover this wasn’t possible, I still clung to thoughts I felt were embarrassing or outrageous or weird. I didn’t want anyone to know they existed so I kept them close and didn’t share.

These days, for a number of reasons, I’ve gotten used to being more open about experiences, thoughts, worries, revelations. (I’ve gotten a considerable amount of practice doing that here.) Part of this is because I’ve let go of feeling self-conscious about many of the things that used to bother me, but it’s also because the more I’ve shared, the more I’ve realized I’m not alone. 

I feel the same way, many of you have kindly commented. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, as I spoke to Emily on the phone about her contribution to Non-Career Advice, we discussed the joys and the trepidation of allowing yourself to be vulnerable in a public forum. 

It’s good to face those fears, we decided. It keeps you connected. It’s nice, also, to keep some things close.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked my niece one day, long before the days of reading Peter Pan.

She didn’t answer.

“What’s on your mind?” I said.

“You already asked me that,” she replied, without looking up from her toys. “Now let’s be silent.”

I found this so funny I had to take a moment to write it down. Then I walked across the room and sat down next to her. 

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s.”

You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thanks so much, as always, for reading. Photo via my Instagram.


Rachel said...

"Now let's be silent". I want to say that to people every day. I love kids so much.

Diana said...

Out of the mouths of babes come some of the most truthful things. it's kind of amazing really.

Sarah Noel said...

I've been reading Peter Pan to Iris too! And this exact part also made me pause, nervous. I glanced over at her to see if she truly understood the meaning of it. I couldn't tell if she didn't, or if she's just too young to mind if mommy can see inside her head. Either way, I was touched (and almost envious maybe?) by her innocence!

cary said...

It sure was worth taking a moment to write down your niece's comment. What a moment.

Anonymous said...


Shoko said...

Sarah, that's lovely :)

Raquel R. said...

Intimate and empathetic writing.

sw said...

Loved reading this, as always! Being comfortable with silence says a lot about a person and his/her relationships :)

Britlyn said...

Beautifully written. Being open and vulnerable can be so freeing but allowing some things to be kept private is so important.

burntfeather said...

:) So great Soko! I remember working with a gentlemen with quite a severe physical disability. He was quite disillusioned with the World and as a result would often take things out on me. In my mind I would think of nasty things in return until one day I had a horrible feeling he could read my mind. I was thinking he had this extra power because he lacked other motor skills and after that I began to be extra cautious with my thoughts :P

Camila Faria said...

That passage is really creepy, I'm sure I would have skipped it over too. Your niece sounds like a very wise little girl.

Shoko said...

Thanks so much for your comments!

Camila, she is indeed :)

max said...


Helen said...

I'm touched by her wisdom, Shoko. xx


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