I took Emma and Abby to Where the Wild Things Are tonight. Though I had heard great things about it, my expectation was that it would be 90+ minutes my daughters would enjoy (and thank me for effusively) and that I would like, but not love. Ah, was I mistaken. The girls were more ambivalent than anything else (though Emma did eventually admit to being teary a few times) and I L-O-V-E-D it! The simultaneous smiling and crying began the first time Max let out a howl and every subsequent time following. For him, it was as if he had to get something out, something wild and untamed and angry and fierce and fearless inside of him that needed to be expressed in the larger world – loudly, without apology, and even without words.
Of course, much of the story shows us the manifestation of Max’s fear, his loneliness, his hunger for a perfect world in which he’s seen, heard, and loved. Those realities, in and of themselves, are achingly poignant and breathtakingly beautiful all at once. But it was his wildness – and the wildness of his imagination played out in the wild things themselves – that pierced right through me and touched a nerve, touched my heart. Maybe both. (And the link between the words “wildness” and “wilderness” is not lost on me, for those of you paying close attention…)
It’s teasingly seductive really, the ease with which I can live a safe, predictable, tame life. I have my worries, my anxieties, my fears; but for the most part I can keep them in check. I can look on the bright side. And for sure, I can look the part: confident, together, strong.
It’s dangerous, or at least seemingly so, to be wild, to express my deepest desires (even my fear, loneliness, and hunger for a perfect world), to howl. But Max himself seduces me to such. He reminds me that there is something, no…MUCH within me that needs to be expressed in the larger world – loudly, without apology, and even without words.
The wild thing within me keeps itself in check. The wild thing within me howls, but silently. The wild thing within me imagines all sorts of amazing worlds and even sets sail for them…but then, more often than not, turns back to shore and says, “you know better, Ronna.” Even typing these words makes me want to scream. Yes, to howl!
All of us have a wild thing within us. And the wild thing within us needs to be the real thing that others see, hear, and love. The safe, tame, predictable life may seem the easy route, but it’s also the one that dulls our desires, kills our dreams, and keeps us, all-too-often, from passion, risk, and Max-like adventures where we ” sail off through the night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.”
Again, with the 2nd person…I have a wild thing within me. And the wild thing within me needs to be the real thing that others see, hear, and love. The safe, tame, predictable life may seem the easy route, but it’s also the one that dulls my desires, kills my dreams, and keeps me, all-too-often, from passion, risk, and Max-like adventures…
Max needed to be seen, heard, and loved for the wild thing he truly was. We all do. I do We need to have the imagination to face our fears, live with them, make friends with them even, and then howl.
I need to face my fears…be my wild self…and howl! Join me?
“Let the wild rumpus start.” Aaaaooooouuuuuuu!
(Deep thanks to A Design So Vast for her beautiful writing on this film. You gave me even more to think about.)