We all have one, if we can remember back that far.
And I bet we can. Because I find that childhood memories, the ones we have, are so often the sharpest, the most poignant.
Everything could seem so simple in childhood. And yet, it wasn’t.
But we didn’t see the complications, not the same way we do now. Our minds weren’t geared to that. In childhood, there is (usually) the simplicity of innocence, our minds not tainted by the weight of worry that plagues us in later years as we assume more and more responsibility for our lives.
What is the “one” we all have? A favourite book, something we read that changed the way we thought or taught us something about the world that has stayed with us no matter how much time has passed, or how far we’ve gone from the home of our youth.
Something that made dreams seem possible, because we didn't think about impossibilities. We didn't think about limitations.
For me, one of those books is The Call of the Wild.
Not exactly a literary masterpiece, no doubt a book that makes some snicker. Never mind about that. That book had power, because it changed the way I thought.
I connected with it.
I always considered myself a dog lover. Bingo, a black lab, had come home a few months after I did, and I grew up with him. Many of the books I read as a child – beyond classics like The Narnia Chronicles, The Great Brain Series, the “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald” Hall Bruno & Boots series, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web – were about horses and dogs.
How I ended up with a copy of The Call of the Wild, I don’t remember. All that matters is I did. About 8 years old, getting yelled at because I was hiding inside with my nose in a book, reading about dogs being mushed across the north while fortune-seekers sought gold.
Dogs that were abused, that died in the traces, that gave there all for the greed of man.
Nootka (in the junky parts of the basement)
I’ve been thinking about this, hearing the conclusion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race today. Some people think it’s cruel, but I have two huskies. There is nothing that will put you off your feet and on your face faster than leashing up the boys and stepping out the door. It’s in their heart to pull, to dig in, to try to outdo each other. They, quite simply, love to run. And they love to run against other dogs. It’s so easy for me to close my eyes and imagine the swish of the sled over the snow, to see the drive of the dogs yipping, anxious to get back on the trail.
Chinook and Nootka, when Nootka was just a pup, in the storage room.
All I know is, my boys would love it. Absolutely, positively love to pull with a team.
The Call of the Wild did a number of things for me. For one, a deep love and respect for huskies was born. Like I said, I own a pair.
Nootka and Chinook
I retained the desire to travel to the north and see the Yukon and Alaska, which I’ve done.
And a dream was born, to be a writer.
That’s the power of books. It doesn’t have to be a “literary masterpiece”. It doesn’t have to be an award-winner or a best-seller.
But it can still have the power to influence your life.
Those are the really great books.
And I bet we all have one – a book we read at some point in time that may seem silly to others, but has meant so much to us.
One we cherish and still keep a copy of on our bookshelves.
The Call of the Wild is one of mine. What’s yours?