Childhood Dreams

Childhood wonder! Photo by Kat Jayne.

The old man sat quietly, wrinkled and gray;
Yet, alertly he watched the toddler play.
Then catching my eye, he beckoned to me;
And stooping, I asked what his need might be.
He said, “Age brings wisdom; but there is a cost,
Dreams get dimmer and wonder is lost;
Yet there is a place not quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when a pine cone could blast to the moon;
Back when a plane was a food-laden spoon;
Back when the sandbox held diamonds galore;
Back when the world was mine to explore;
Back when I was a brave musketeer,
Then a garbage truck driver, then a train engineer;
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when the world was a better place;
Back when it was fine to have dirt on your face.
Back before taxes and political fears;
Back before hatred and heckling jeers.
Back before payments, duties, and bills;
Back before headaches, heartaches, and ills.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when a pill bug was, oh, so cool!
Back before work and back before school.
Back when it was easy to tell wrong from right,
When choices weren’t gray, just black and white.
Back when I played ‘til darkness rolled in,
And at morning’s first light, be at it again.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back to young loss when my little goat died,
Oh, how I cried; oh, how I cried.
Back when Mom’s kiss made pain disappear—
I wish she were here; I wish she were here.
Back when I’d watch the old grandfather clock,
And minutes passed slowly with a tick and a tock.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when a stick was a sword’s worth of fun;
Back when a fly-swatter was a genuine gun;
Back when a rock was all sorts of things—
A frog or a dog or an eagle with wings!
Back when a phantom was my very best friend;
Back when adventure had no end.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when I’d watch the clouds pass for hours;
Back when I’d pick the dandelion flowers;
Back when mud pies were fun to eat,
Back when cheezies were a wonderful treat.
Back to the smell of hot apple pie
Back when it was fine to lay down and cry!
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back to popsicles on hot summer days,
Back to fresh bread with strawberry glaze.
Back to angels in the fresh-fallen snow
Back to pumpkins with their faces aglow
Back to tooth fairies and Santa Claus,
Back to forgiveness given without pause.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.

Back when the world was wide-eyed wonder;
Back when giant talk was rolling thunder;
Back when a puddle was the deep blue sea;
Back to the fortress up in the tree.
Back to innocence, laughter, and mirth;
Back to the sunshine, back to the earth.
Back where nothing was quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.”

The old man finished with a far-off smile;
And caught up in memories, we sat for a while.
When again he spoke, he looked at me,
And said in a voice as soft as could be,
“For all of my wisdom I wish I could learn—
If just for a minute how to return,
Back to where nothing is quite as it seems—
Back in the land of my childhood dreams.”


Age, what a conundrum.  When we are young, we wish we were older, then we get older and wish we were young!  I was at my parent’s house the other day with my brother’s four-year-old son Eli.  I had forgotten what an adventure life is when you are four.  Eli ran excitedly to tell me that his dad drives a pickup truck, then he happily rode the tractor with grandpa, and finally, he couldn’t have been more thrilled to sit on the riding mower with my sister while she mowed the lawn.  Honestly, when was the last time you laughed with pure delight while mowing the lawn? 

Well, Eli did—just last week.  I know. I watched him. 

His excitement for life made me remember my own childhood.  I remembered a younger version of me racing to the window to watch the mailman and garbage truck driver pass the house.  I bet you haven’t done that in a while.  I was doing dishes this week and heard the garbage truck out front.  I raced to the window (walked actually) and watched him dump the trash—just for old time’s sake. 

It made me think: What happens to us?  Why don’t we keep living life with the passion of our four-year-old selves?  When does daily life change from rose-colored hue to a mundane gray?  Life happens, I guess. . .whatever that means.  With these thoughts percolating in the back of my brain, I was praying the other night before bed when the thought gently came, “Go back! Go Back! To the land of dreams.”

The Spirit was not telling me to go back to my childhood or to spend my life in a realm of fantasy but to go back to seeing the world with “wide-eyed wonder”—to see the blessing that is this mortal experience.  Yes, there are hard times and stresses and challenges, but each of us has so much to be grateful and thankful for.  God himself said, “Against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).  I think God wants us to pause each day to smell the proverbial roses, to watch a sunset, to see a spider spin a web, to see the innocent smile of a child, to share a moment with a friend.  “Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is a gift—that is why it is called the present.” 

This poem is personal to me.  Many of the examples shared in the poem are experiences and memories from my childhood.  My hope is that while reading this, each of us can remember something precious we may have forgotten.  And to the old man in the poem—and in each of us—who wishes for just a moment to go back to the land of childhood dreams, I say this: get going with all the four-year-old excitement you can muster and unwrap the gift of today!

Written: August 2016

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