By Anshi Shenxing
When I think of my childhood, I always think of Fall.
There’s a scene at the end of the movie Big where the street is lined with trees ablaze with the full spectrum of autumn colors. They reach across the pavement, forming an orange and yellow canopy that seems to go on forever. Fall has always been my favorite season, and it seemed to last longer when I was a kid—but that could just be time distorting memory.
There’s a feeling to those days, a subtle glimpse that the word “nostalgia” doesn’t quite convey. It’s less like looking back, and more like bringing forth, letting those moments reappear in the present. It’s like water on rock, or grass swaying golden green at sunset. Like hard candy, bang snaps, and ink pens—the clear ones with caps.
It’s the 90’s, back before childhood was interrupted by madmen flying planes into buildings. Before Dad lost his job, before I discovered the miracle of alcohol, before the war(s). Before the complications.
I get the impression that life still isn’t all that complicated, we just make it that way.
The only difference between me as a kid and me now, is that now I think I know things. Really, there’s nothing stopping me from pouring a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and watching Darkwing Duck right now. There’s nothing stopping me from going outside and lying in the grass.
Well, nothing but depression, which has the amazing ability of putting up a wall between actions and intentions. It takes my voice, takes my will. It’ll probably take me too, someday. Somewhere along the way, things got screwed up. The bad habits made their way into everything, the need to be loved prevented me from loving myself. Winter came, tears froze, and the leaves fell from those autumn trees, leaving behind wooden skeletons scratching at cold, gray skies.
What happened? Impermanence happened. Death and rebirth. Lower and lower, darker and darker. I never knew how dark things could get. The shadows ate me up, to the point that whole years have passed by without me barely even noticing the changing leaves. Self-destructive, self-absorbed, self-loathing. Why? Why did this happen to that little kid who loved the Fall? Who never hurt anyone, who only wanted to be loved.
We never grow old, we just get colder.
But I know, with total certainty, that I’m still in here somewhere. That that child still lives in all of us. That there’s still magic and mystery, still that feeling, and that it can be brought forth to stay, that it isn’t hidden, just easy to overlook.
We can’t do it alone, we have to help each other be free. With each angry retort, each betrayal, and each callous dismissal we reinforce the frost in each other’s hearts.
We have to help each other Wake Up—help each other be young and simple by not complicating each other’s lives; by not hurting each other. Pain closes us off from the world, which closes us off from ourselves. I’ve tasted that sweet openness, we all have.
The only way to get back to it is together.
This entry written while listening to:
Anshi (安狮) is the pen name for a certain Chan Buddhist. He calls his introspective, autobiographical writing, “Dharma Noir.” All names are changed to protect the privacy of those involved. If you know who Anshi is, please refrain from telling anyone.
Editor: Dana Gornall