Editor’s Note: Yesterday I stumbled upon an old piece of writing. I mean way old. Like, mid-1980s. Yes, I said the 80s – the dark ages for many of you. I read this deep, poignant piece that was full of innocence, idealism and insecurities. Written around age of 15, I had only small tastes of the cruelness of the world, and yet most of my thoughts are full of such truth and wisdom. Now at age 43, I feel as though I meander in and out of the “game of pretend.” How about you?
A conglomeration of stars and a mysterious black scope.
All awaiting me, the eyes and mind of a fourth-grade girl.
My teacher, Mr. Latzer, stood before the class in his shy blue shirt messily tucked into his polyester pants. To me, it was a regular, dull school day.
But then something happened.
“Today class, we are going to travel somewhere,” he explained. “Somewhere called imagination.”
He then held up a flimsy poster with large, hand-sized planets, which were set on a pitch-dark background. Tiny clusters of stars twinkled.
He explained our assignment was to write using our imagination. In fourth grade, this was my first creative writing assignment.
I thought the only stories are read or wrote were: “Dick and Sally play ball. Watch Dick and Sally run.”
He continued, “Explore, pretend you are going into space and into another galaxy. Describe what you see on paper.”
I got out a fresh piece of paper and gripped my fat red pencil. I didn’t know what to write. Insecurities began to surface.
“What would kids say if they thought my story was stupid? I wonder if they would laugh and tease me?” I thought to myself.
I stared at the dark, mysterious poster for a while. Raising my brow, I noticed the other kids writing.
“How are they doing it?” I wondered.
I tried to concentrate on what Mr. Latzer had said earlier, “Explore, pretend…”
So, I pretended.
In this life you must pretend. Pretending is part of the game of life. Even as a nine-year-old, I learned to fake it.
If one is afraid to give a speech what does one give advise, “Oh, pretend their not there.”
And yet, I’m still scared. I think we’re all scared so let’s all pretend.
In class when I want to raise my hand, or make a comment, I am scared. I try to pretend. Pretend that I don’t care what others think, and I try to bottle up those lurking insecurities.
In this life we try too much to pretend.
Or, do we pretend in order to keep going? To keep surviving?
We are all scared of failure. We are just people vs. people. But people can hurt and kill each other. So if we all pretend, everything will be okay, right? The politicians, the government, churches, advertisers…they all pretend and so do we.
The lies, the contradictions.
We pretend other countries aren’t there, and we are the only ones on the planet. I think some of it has to do with selfishness. “Well, if I succeed (even though I didn’t win fairly), I still won.” That’s all that counts.
That is the American ideal.
In early life we are taught that only the ones with the “gold medals” are the real “winners.”
But I do not agree with that statement.
Try to be yourself. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand, or give a speech.
But that human instinct creeps, and screams, “No! They might laugh. You will be hurt!”
Even in the fourth grade I realized this truth. Deep down inside I knew one must “explore and pretend.” That human instinct is locked up inside of me; maybe you could see it on my face and maybe you still can. But I looked up at the planets and stars, and knew I wasn’t the only one pretending.Follow