Saturday, October 4, 2008


One of my favorite books is WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, by Maurice Sendack. It is a story about a little boy who goes to a place where there are monsters roaring at him, showing their claws, rolling their yellow eyes and doing their best to terrify him. Max, however, being a true six year old, is not intimidated by these theatrics, and tames them by "staring into their yellow eyes without blinking....and they were frightened, and called Max the wildest thing of all...." I have the great pleasure of reading this book to my first graders every year, and presiding over the creation of some pretty awesome puppets, like the one you see here. You can imagine the roaring and general wildness that ensues during this class!
This morning I reread another favorite story, from Pema Chodron, about facing the things that scare you. My monsters look like political figures, my retirement fund, my wrinkles, cancer....
maybe there is something to this taming of the monsters by looking them in the eye.
Here is the story:
"When I was about ten, my best friend started having nightmares: she'd be running through a huge dark building pursued by hideous monsters.  She'd get to a door, struggle to open it, and no sooner had she closed it behind her tan she would hear it opened b y rapidly approaching monsters.  Finally she would wake up screaming and crying for help. 
One day we were sitting in her kitchen, talking about her nightmares. When I asked her what the demons looked like she said she didn't know because she was always running away.  After I asked her that question, she began to wonder about the monsters.  She wondered if any of them looked like witches and if any of them had knives.  So on the next occurence of the nightmare, just as the demons began to pursue her, she stopped running and turned around.  It took tremendous courage, and her heart was pounding, but she put her back up against the wall and looked at them.  They all stopped right in front of her and began jumping up and down, but none of them came any closer. There were five in all, each looking somewhat like an animal. One of them was a grey bear, but instead of claws, it had long red fingernails.  One had four eyes.  Another had a wound on its cheek.  Once she looked closely, they appeared less like monsters and more like two-dimensional drawings in comic books.  Then slowly they began to fade. After that she woke up, and that was the end of her nightmares. "

In an interview with WTWTA author Maurice Sendack, he confided that the inspiration for his wild things came from childhood memories of his relatives coming for dinner. When I read the wild things' pleading with Max: "oh, please don't go! We'll eat you up, we love you so!" I am again delighted  by the similarities between the two.

Have a beautiful day, and look 'em right in the eye.


annie hagar said...

that is a GREAT picture.

organicsyes said...

7 Secrets...tag! you are it:) Wanna play?