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					         Who We Were.. .
         When I was a child I had a friend who had a set of crutches. She pretended she was disabled with
         polio. She had never had polio or any other debilitating illness. She was perfectly capable of walking
         on her own, but she wanted to use crutches so her parents bought her some. She was not allowed to
         take them to school but for several years she used them to get around her home, cheerfully pretending
         to be disabled. While I didn’t understand why she wanted to pretend to be disabled I was, as a child,
         amazed at her parents willingness to indulge her fantasy. My mother let me know that she certainly
         did not think it was healthy game to play. Who knows why my friend had such a fantasy? But to my
         knowledge she went on to live a happy and productive life as a veterinarian and the mother of two
         children, walking on her own two feet.
         Remembering this recently I started thinking about the fantasies we have as children. Some of them
         we act out in games. Others are secret fantasies, daydreams of what we would be if were braver or
         what we hope to become when we are older. I remember two of mine. One was inspired by a movie
         where a female pirate ran her own ship and crew. Wearing a very flattering set of trousers and tunic,
         she/I gave orders, fought bravely and skillfully with a sword, stole from the rich and distributed
         the booty to those in need. Of course, in the end this female Robin Hood of the high seas put on a
         beautiful gown and married an even more daring male pirate. Although the movie ended there, in my
         daydream she/I put my trousers back on after the wedding, and my new husband and I continued our
         adventures in two ships that sailed side by side.
         How this childhood fantasy relates to my adult life is a lot easier to surmise than my friend’s fantasy of
         being disabled. The other fantasy I can recall is more disturbing than being a happily married pirate.
         There were several versions of this second fantasy, but it always involved some form of martyrdom,
         usually a scenario where I was dying bravely from injuries incurred while rescuing someone in need.
         It was only recently that I recalled these fantasies and with some
         dismay saw their connection to some of the choices I have made
         in my adult life.
         Our childhood fantasies can tell us a lot about the values and
         dreams that shaped our later choices. Like the details that bring
         a character in a novel to life, the story of a childhood fantasy can
         spark the imagination and bring insight.
         So write the story of one of your childhood fantasies. It may help
         to write in the third person. ( ie. -Oriah imagined herself as a
         pirate. . . .) What did you imagine you would be or do as an adult?
         Was there a movie or TV character that you wanted to be? If you
         have only the slimmest memory use your imagination to fill in the
         details now, the tone and texture and feel of a child seeing him or
         herself in a particular role. Write it without regard for practicalities.
         (Fantasies are no place for practical considerations.) Write it with
         the enthusiasm of a child.

 Based on What We Ache For by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, published by HarperSanFrancisco, 2005

Although Oriah enjoys receiving writing from her readers, the number of messages she gets makes it impossible to send individual responses.

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