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Monday, September 16, 2013

A Book You Love

Let me try once more," Milo said in an effort to explain. "In other words--"
"You mean you have other words?" cried the bird happily. "Well, by all means, use them. You're certainly not doing very well with the ones you have now.” 

“if something is there, you can only see it with your eyes open, but if it isn't there, you can see it just as well with your eyes closed. That's why imaginary things are often easier to see than real ones.” 
“As the cheering continued, Rhyme leaned forward and touched Milo gently on the shoulder. 
"They're cheering for you," she said with a smile. 
"But I could never have done it," he objected, "without everyone else's help." 
"That may be true," said Reason gravely, "but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you *will* do." 
"That's why," said Azaz, "there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn't discuss until you returned. 
"I remember," said Milo eagerly. "Tell me now." 
"It was impossible," said the king, looking at the Mathemagician. 
"Completely impossible," said the Mathemagician, looking at the king. 
"Do you mean----" said the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint. 
"Yes, indeed," they repeated together; "but if we'd told you then, you might not have gone---and, as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible." 
And for the remainder of the ride Milo didn't utter a sound.” 

To a child, there is nothing more wonderous than the adult world and nothing more exciting that doing something you've never done before, or making sense of something you've never understood. I read The Phantom Tollbooth countless times as a kid. My dad read it to me for the first time, lying in the giant queen bed in the master bedroom as I yawned. Yet I managed to push my bedtime farther and farther by asking for just one more chapter. My excuse was that it didn't make sense yet, and it just had to make sense. I lied, though, because every word in that book made beautiful sense to me. I understood everything Milo was going through because in a fantasy land of the young and drowsy, nothing is better appreciated than a bedtime story about a hero in a far off land who's task is to rescue not one, but two princesses. I remember thinking about the words I had recently aquired as I stood in front of my fourth grade class I told them about the far off country of India. I remember struggling in adolescence about how people would tell me things were impossible, and I would say to them in my head that it was only impossible because you said it to me, and therefore have destroyed the idea in my head that it once was possible, for me. 
 And all of those ideas in my head, those dreams that never seem to come true but even now hold that promise of a good thought, that book held that reminder for me. See the imaginary thoughts, the imaginary ideas, and those dreams turn from your imagination into real life on paper or in words or into people you meet. I love that book for keeping the child alive in me, and I remind myself that nothing is impossible until you say it is. 

“Would it be possible for me to see something from up there?" asked Milo politely.

"You could," said Alec, "but only if you try very hard to look at things as an adult does."

Milo tried as hard as he could, and, as he did, his feet floated slowly off the ground until he was standing in the air next to Alex Bings. He looked around very quickly and, an instant later, crashed back down to the earth again.

"Interesting, wasn't it?" asked Alex.

"Yes, it was," agreed Milo, rubbing his head and dusting himself off, "but I think I'll continue to see things as a child. It's not so far to fall.” 

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