So. It’s 7:30-ish in the morning. I’m awake. This is not at all unusual, except for the fact that I went to bed somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00am. Still, awake I am. For now.
Today, I’d like to talk about a favorite author of mine, Zenna Henderson. I suppose technically she wrote fantasy, but it never felt like fantasy to me—not as a child, at least. Alas, most of her books are out of print.The only way to get her fabulous collections of short stories (The Anything Box, Holding Wonder) is to track them down in the library or purchase them used, which is a tragedy. What is less tragic, however, is that her books about “The People” as she calls them, Pilgrimage and The People: No Different Flesh are available sort of mixed up and put together (along with a few other things) in a large hardcover volume called Ingathering. This is so worth buying (or at least borrowing).
As I was making breakfast just now, I got to thinking about one of the short stories of hers that I loved best. It was called (I think) C’mon, Wagon. It was a about a little boy who has a red wagon that he can get to follow him just by saying “C’mon, wagon.” the reason he can do this is because he hasn’t been told yet that it is impossible. The concept of the story is that anything is possible until we learn that it is impossible, so there are things that children can do when they are very young, because they haven’t yet learned that they can’t. Adults, on the other hand, know that these things are impossible, so they are, indeed, impossible. I loved that idea.
In the story, if I remember correctly, the adult narrator becomes so jealous of the child that she blurts out the facts in a fit of rage, and of course the child can never call his wagon again. I think that is what happens anyway; It’s been years since I read it. That idea has stuck with me all this time, though—that anything is possible until we learn that it isn’t—that every mundane reality we learn erases multiple possibilities. I’ve learned too much in my lifetime, I think.
So that’s my ramble for the morning.