Alice in Wonderland?

You know this isn’t the first time I have taken a look at the list that I maintain about ideas to expound on and thought, “For crying out loud, (one of my grandmother’s favorite exclamations) what in the world was I thinking?” This is no exception, other than it did give me an idea. It may be the same idea but who knows? I certainly don’t. Anyway, sometime back I wrote in my list of ideas, “Alice in Wonderland!” I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but I know what comes to mind now.
It has been a long time since I saw Alice in Wonderland, but it is not one of those movies you easily forget having seen. However, in my case remembering that I’ve seen something and remembering exactly what I’ve seen are not necessarily the same. So, before going any further with the thought, I decided that it was incumbent on me to watch it once more. It’s amazing what the memory can do with reality.
As the story begins, there is this beautiful little blonde girl with big beautiful blue eyes, in a perfectly fitting blue dress and a white pinafore. She’s sitting in a tree playing with a kitten. Someone, a governess it appears, is reading to her from a history book. Alice isn’t happy with the way things are going in her world, and expresses the desire for her own little world in the first song of the movie, “A World of My Own.” The lyrics impart her idea of what she would like in a world that was suited just to her. How many times have I considered what a world of my own design would be like?
For starters, how about looking like Alice? Well, maybe Alice in her twenties would be more appropriate. Like Alice, I certainly wouldn’t want people telling me what acceptable behavior was. There was a time when I wanted people in my world to be just as comfortable with Georgia as they were with George. (That’s assuming, of course, that they were as comfortable with George as I liked to think they were.) If I woke up on any given morning and wanted to go to work as Georgia that would be perfectly acceptable, and in fact encouraged, because after all, employers would be delighted with the diversity that I brought to my job. Spouses would be equally delighted with both parts of their spouse’s persona. (Well, I was designing a “perfect” world wasn’t I?) And my children would find me absolutely terrific either way. (A “perfect” world, remember?) Well, anyway I’m getting sidetracked.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a “White Rabbit” comes racing into Alice’s world, and Alice finding herself overcome with curiosity about the “White Rabbit,” and where he’s going, races after him. She squeezes through a very tight hole under a tree and continues her pursuit of the “White Rabbit” into his world. She becomes so wrapped up explaining this pursuit to her kitten she doesn’t pay attention to where she’s going and suddenly finds that she has gone too far. She is beyond the edge and tumbles down and down and down into another world. I was a “White Rabbit” that came racing into George’s world once. I remember that one of Dad’s favorite cartoon strips was “Pogo.” In one particular episode was a line that he loved to quote, Pogo utters the line, “We have met the enemy and they is us.” Well, “George had met the White Rabbit and it was me”. The White Rabbit in George’s life was me, and George crawled into the hole and didn’t pay any attention to where he was going, went over the edge and in a freefall into another world; Georgia’s world.
At that point in my life, and it was a much younger point, over thirty years ago, I felt I was pretty much indestructible and that I could handle just about anything that came my way. I was so absorbed with the pursuit of whom I was that I ended up in a pretty screwy world. I did some pretty screwy things. The first thing Alice ran into was a door; which opened to a smaller door, which opened to a smaller door, and so on until the last door which was just large enough for her to fit through on her knees. This last door opened into a large empty room with one very small door on the opposite wall and through which the “White Rabbit” was just disappearing. In my case I kept going through door after door, each one of which was a little more difficult to go through; a little tighter fit. In other words each experience as Georgia was a little further beyond the past I had known. I was behaving just as a young Alice; immature and totally self-absorbed in my quest for the “White Rabbit”.
The door on the other side of the room had a talking door knob that had the solutions to her dilemma. I find it somehow odd that in her attempt to get through that final door the solutions kept changing. Then, finally it was her tears, brought on by frustration, that washed her through the keyhole into “Wonderland”. If my bride was here to tell you about it, I’m sure that she would tell you that is pretty much what happened to me. It wasn’t so much a flood of tears that carried me into “Wonderland” as it was a flood of emotions, which of course are always behind a flood of tears. My explanations as to what was happening in our lives kept changing and my solutions kept changing in pace with the changing explanations. The problem with all of these explanations was that I was in much the same predicament as Alice when she was trying to get directions from the caterpillar. Instead of giving her directions he kept demanding, “Explain yourself.” Alice’s response was pretty telling.
“I can’t explain myself … because I’m not myself.”
At that point in my life I was not myself, at least not the self that I was accustomed to and in spite of the comfort level I felt I could not explain it anymore than Alice could. The situation was not made any easier by the fact that, like the Cheshire cat who presented a perfect representation of my life, Georgia kept disappearing in parts and reappearing in parts. When Alice asked for directions the cat’s response was, “It doesn’t matter which way you go … unless of course you want to find the ‘White Rabbit.'” She was told to visit the “Mad Hatter and the March Hare”. My Mad Hatter and March Hare turned out to be a couple of psychologists who didn’t have any better grip on things than the Hatter and the Hare. Going to them turned out to be an experience like the one Alice had when the trail kept disappearing behind her and then finally disappeared everywhere except where she was standing at the moment. At that point she just sat down and cried. That’s what visiting with psychologists made me want to do. I saw no way forward and couldn’t go back the way I’d come.
Somewhere in the dialogue Alice comments that she will “write a book about this place … if I ever get out of here.” Before she gets out of there she goes through a “trial” at the hands of the Queen of Hearts. All through the trial the queen keeps shouting “Off with her head”. There were many times that my bride shouted “Off with her head”. In the end I returned to “reality” just as Alice did. But in Alice’s world we are left with the feeling that she remained forever in the reality she had tried to escape when she visited Wonderland. In my reality I eventually revisited what I had been trying to find, as opposed to trying to escape, all those years ago. But this time it was with a far better understanding than the one I had the first time. I had fifteen years to think about, and consider the mistakes of the first visit, and the wrong forks in the road. Most important I had a grip on reality the second trip. The difference that made was to make Wonderland a reality that could be experienced and lived on a daily basis. All that was required was for “Georgia” to grow up so that I could recognize the difference between silly dreams and livable aspirations.

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