It happens this way …
Many moons ago I read an article by a psychologist who claimed that little girls begin to lose their True Selves about the age of 7. She didn’t mention when this happens for boys and, given the acceleration of all kinds of media, I bet this loss starts for everyone much earlier than the proverbial “age of reason.”
In any event, she said the messages girls receive from schools, parents, churches, and society-at-large, move them toward adopting identities that are not authentically theirs.
Her suggestion? Find a photograph of yourself before the age of seven and take a close look. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot the True Self you were born to be.
I followed her advice and found this photo taken in 1948 on the front porch of my grandmother’s house in Carteret, N.J. What a revelation! Where had this feisty girl with the straight-on gaze gone? I hadn’t seen her in decades. Of course, a poem arrived to capture the photo and my response to it.
It’s your turn. Find your photo and see what it says about the person you arrived on the planet to be!
Portrait of a Cowboy as a Young Girl
Mugging for the camera
in brand new cowboy boots,
she still insists she’s Roy not Dale,
riding down the Happy Trail with Trigger
and the Sons of Pioneers.
She smoothes her bronco-busting chaps,
pulls tight her white-fringed gloves,
adjusts a broad brim hat that tilts
above her bangs straight-cut
and ties beneath a stubborn chin.
The lens clicks up the front porch steps,
corrals her closed-mouth smile,
her arms akimbo, stance girl-proud.
It’s 1948. She’s three,
decked out in faux rawhide.
This day, You Are My Sunshine plays
inside her head, the words exact,
a bit off-key. You make me happy …
those straight-on eyes convey … please
don’t take my sunshine away.
I don’t recall who shot this frame,
or how it felt to roam the Jersey shore
as the King of Cowboys, Son of Pioneers.
I don’t recall the guns, the fringe,
the voice that sang when skies are gray.
I can’t recall when I was more
of me than on that sunless winter day.