“Santa exists, but he definitely doesn’t bring presents!” – I was all of a sudden struck by the philosophical repercussions from this remark of an 11 year-old student of mine. What a way to rephrase the eternal grown-up complaint of existence!
And then, suddenly, in a typically adult postscriptum of self-doubt:
“He exists, doesn’t he?”
I can never bring myself to speak with kids the adult way. I try to treat them as equals, because that’s what I craved for myself, being a child.As probably did each of us.But when such questions arise, I’m not sure how well I do on that point and probably seem a little lost – hovering somewhere between metaphysics and deep space. Now I found myself lost between the inability to shatter childhood dreams – simply because of my firm belief that dreams in general, even if not literally with Santa – are only a yet unknown side of reality.
“Well, you know if we can’t see something, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.Thre were loads of things people didn’t see and didn’t believe in before. Electricity, the earth being round, the planets in deep space – loads of things! Someone said that everything we can imagine – exists. Personally, I believe in that.”
I’m not sure how child-friendly my monologue was for a parent, but I was thinking aloud more than putting my anti-baby-talk credo into practice. I simply have a belief that the soul has no age, that’s why nothing hurts children more than being called that word – the word for little – with all its repercussions which they already know too well: child = not understanding, not thinking, not enough of something.
Not enough of hypocrisy, for sure.
I could’ve continued the story with the fact of the real Saint Nicholas’ existence, which would be somewhat of a finding for this wonderful boy, but that would be another story.
As we go through childhood and youth, our beliefs start with what we are taught by those whom we trust most – our parents; then, as doubts start crawling into our mind, we look to those around us and life itself to prove or undo these. In some cases, we are confirmed and lost in our doubts, in others we see them helpless against a soft inner light. Our beliefs may vary as we grow, they may be put to the test, eclipsed. We may look at the horizon and see nothing but flatness, and not believe that someone, somewhere, has proven long ago that the earth was round. We may look at the dark sky full of burning winter stars as a simple backdrop to the misfortunes or joys of our life, without realizing down to our very bones that this backdrop to which in reality we are the backdrop, is endless – literally endless, and were we to rise a little above those joys or misfortunes, into that deep space, we would be overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that each second of our lives we are flying through the Universe but actually feel nothing. Imagine that, and forget all kids’ tales. Santa in the chimney would seem the sanest thing in the world after this fact.
“One dies in space not from the lack of oxygen, but from the immensity of time in its pure, undissolved, human-less state” said the poet.
That’s why I cannot baby-talk with those who may know about that immensity more than I do.Simply because they believe in dreams more than I. And that immensity knows that everything we can imagine, and lots of what we can’t, is real.
The rest is to be discussed with kids or astrophysicists. I suggest the former, as they are easier to find and more understandable.