Is This True? Does Childhood Offer But One Glimpse of the Future

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” — Graham Greene, The Power & the Glory

Photo by the author.

I’d been assembling Graham Green quotes for a blog post on Medium , and this one above gave me paws. I began howling like a dog.

No, what I meant was the expression it gave me pause, caused me to stop and reflect. Is this statement really true? I had to ask myself, was there a singular moment — perhaps a singular event — that showed me the rest of my life?

There’s a Borges story in which Borges sits on a park bench and realizes his younger self is at the other end of the bench. The older attempts to convey something to the younger, giving a glimpse of his future in an unusual way.

As a reflect on my own life, there are many moments that reveal myself to myself, though I have difficulty pointing to a single moment when a door opened. In my very earliest years I had no real concept of “the rest of my life.”

Other scenes come to mind and in retrospect I see my characteristic weakness and vacillation. Still other moments I see a singular confidence in the face of meager odds.

Perhaps my pneumonia experience gave me some premonitions. I missed the last five weeks of the school year in seventh grade. Also did time in the hospital, five days total. I missed the Little League All-Star Game and the kid from Peapack-Gladstone who took my place at shortstop hit a grand slam home run. He hit it off that big fastball pitcher from Far Hills who had struck me out last time I faced him. Privately I was grateful to not have been a goat, though I never admitted this to anyone.

I look at my early relationships with girls and see patterns that followed for a lifetime. I was oldest of four boys with no sisters, so there was always something mysterious and fascinating about the opposite sex, even before puberty.

A fairly re-defining event for me was being pallbearer at my best friend’s funeral in high school. Much reflection on that experience ensued, and I never fully released my bottled up grief till more than a dozen years later, a cathartic torrent of tears.

Perhaps some of my early dreams offered glimpses as well. One recurring theme from that time — one that took a variety of forms — still haunts me.

Alas, did you ever have a moment in childhood when you saw your future with perfect clarity? Yes? No? Leave a comment. I’d like to hear more.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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