I Dwell in Possibility

My 7-year-old got in the car after school the other day and announced, "I still believe in Santa, but I'm getting kind of suspicious of those Elves on the Shelf." Not much gets past her.


This revelation got me thinking about a blog post I've been writing off and on in my mind for the last 20 years or so. You can see at that pace why this blog only has a handful of entries...

The year was 1992. I was in college watching one of my then all-time favorite movies "The Lost Boys" with a friend who shockingly had never seen it. When the vampires in the movie fly around, the camera angle is from their perspective. So my friend asks, "Are they flying as bats or men?" "I don't know, men I guess." To which she says, "oh that's ridiculous. I don't believe that." Still makes me laugh. Vampires- fine. Vampires turning into bats- fine. Vampires flying around like Superman- ridiculous.

And so through the years I've been mentally collecting these lines people draw in what they are willing to believe. One of my favorites was when my then 4-year-old cousin was watching Rocky and Bullwinkle. He looks up from the tv and calmly says, "Squirrels can't talk." Yep. There you have it. The only logical flaw in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show...

These lines come up at my The Little Gym often too. Just recently I walked into a 3-year-old class just in time to hear a girl tell her teacher, "those snakes aren't real." True. Because the "snakes" were actually just scarves tied around the beam. But notice she didn't say, "those scarves aren't snakes." She said, "those snakes aren't real." So part of me thinks she entertained the idea of them being snakes in her head just long enough to draw her line. And even as she made her statement, she was looking for reassurance... 

What also amuses me is the flip side- the leaps we'll make to justify a belief. (And now I'm just speaking about kids here, so no one extrapolate this to apply to any adult beliefs...) Back to my daughter and Santa. So last year for Christmas my older daughter asked for a robot toy from Santa. She received a blue penguin robot. Blue being her favorite color and penguins her favorite animal. When her younger sister saw this miraculous gift, she said, "see sissy! Now do you believe in Santa? Who else would know you liked blue and penguins? I told you Santa was real!" Indeed. Who else....

A couple of weeks ago my 7-year-old Elf skeptic came home and announced she had "scientifically proven fairies existed." She added, "My friend saw one. And you know, if you see something you can believe it. And if your friend sees something you can believe it. Right, mom?" I had a small moral crisis about how to answer her. Wasn't sure if I I wanted to crush her belief in eye witness testimony. Her dad however, had no such crisis. He told her that wasn't scientific proof. He explained that was the least reliable kind of evidence. Then he listed for her reliable "hard" evidence she would need to prove their existence. The best being capturing a live fairy, but they decided that if she found a piece of a wing or some pixie dust, that would be good enough. So the hunt continues... at least till her belief line in fairies moves... 

As for me, I like my lines widely drawn. I leave room for lots of things to fit. I dwell in possibility...

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
— Emily Dickinson