William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

My Childhood Self

In terms of imagination, joy, and wonder, I am as much my childhood self as ever. I am a dreamer, and the world passes through me as a dream. That is my reality. There has been an accumulation of facts, of knowledge, yes — but as useful as some of these are, or seem to be, they are only superficial adornments. They are not mine; I lay no claim to them. In a way, too, they are like investments, which, ultimately, cannot and should not be relied upon; their value ebbs and flows; they can easily evaporate. And without imagination, joy, and wonder, they would be worthless anyway. As best as I can remember or tell, I had this same understanding at the ages of six and eight and ten and twelve. What I did not have was the words with which to express it. I had words; words had me; what I lacked was experience. And yet I had some: at the age of six, a ten-day hospitalization arising from what was initially diagnosed as leukemia; at the age of twelve, a dangerous bout of heat exhaustion that had lasting effects; at the age of seventeen, the death of a very close friend — enough, in other words, to enrich and expand anyone’s vocabulary. All of this, while observing and processing the behavior of those around me: the aging, suffering adults; the frustrations of people who were unhappy for various comprehensible and incomprehensible reasons; the scars of genocide and of the Great Depression; the war in Vietnam. In The Prophet, Gibran says, The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. I have always loved those words. But at the age of sixty-five, I am even more aware that there is no need to distinguish between one and the other, even if it were possible; just as there is no need to hold onto either. Having been given life, I have been given everything. Whatever passes, passes through, passes on.

July 31, 2021


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