I find that as a parent I spend a lot of time feeling more real than I perhaps ever have. I look at my boys, I watch them grow and hope that I am guiding them as best I can. I look up to my own parents and admire them more then I ever have before. I feel more able and ready to take chances, but balanced against an overwhelming drive to be risk averse for the sake of my children. Above all else I feel connected. Connected to real life, I live each day. I don't always find the time to do what I want to and the day doesn't always go to plan, but there is something in each and every day that makes me feel real. I am reminded of the conversation between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse. We had that passage read at our wedding by a very good friend and it remains as true today as it was when it was published in 1922.
I thought about this when I was watching Safety not Guaranteed a few weeks ago. The possibility of life, not closing your mind to opportunity or dismissing the ideas and passions of others. To take that risk, to listen, to believe.
Another thought the film very naturally provoked was going back in time (the key theme for anyone who hasn't seen it). I am normally all for looking forward, learning from the past but thinking to the future, even if that future is what is happening tomorrow. But there is something fascinating about time travel. It's a beautiful but simultaneously terrifying notion that you could learn from history directly rather than textbooks or reenactments. Aside from major historical events or discoveries, there would be the wonderful opportunity to meet people at a different stage of their life. If I had the chance to travel back in time I would go back to 1950, when my parents were turning 4. I'd love to meet my grandparents as they were negotiating those precious preschool years and talk to them about their lives as they were prematurely worldly wise from the war and all the hardship and loss that came with it. I'd love to see my parents at that age, to see some of the memories that they have relayed to me come to life. To watch their discoveries, their excitement as they learnt about the world around them, the love from their parents that surrounded them, protected all the more for the change, trauma and relief that the country had been hurled through over the past few years.
Naturally I can't turn back time in reality. My grandparents are no longer alive to talk to either, but I am happy to listen to and talk to my parents about these times, to hear more of their stories and to ask them all the questions that I never thought to ask my grandparents. To hear about their lives, their childhood world and perhaps, if I'm brave, about their perspective of mine too.