"My name's not Alice
but I know how she felt
When her world started
turning into something else..."
Today I have a very important date... to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland! Those of you who have been reading the blog lately know that Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorites. For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with the story. I've watched the Disney film more times than I can count and I've read the book quite a few times. As a child, I loved Alice more than any of the other animated films. While many little kids were scared of the film, I sat watching intently, in awe of the oddness of it. I wondered what it would be like to fall down a rabbit hole into a world where everything made no sense.
As I got older, I realized that my world had quite a bit of nonsense in it as well and I wondered if, perhaps, I was already down the rabbit hole. Everything about the world -- both Alice's and my own -- fascinated me and confused me. I spent a great deal of my childhood thinking about Alice and how much I was like her. I felt, in many ways, that my life paralleled her unexpected journey down the rabbit hole. I came to understand that, like Alice, I couldn't seem to come to terms with the world around me. It was an interesting place, yes, but also unnerving at times. The world around me was something I wanted desperately to understand yet struggled so much to do so. I would go to sleep hoping to wake to the realization that all my life I'd been dreaming. I hoped to find that real world, the world in which things finally made sense, was just on the other side of my dreams.
The older I got, the more settled I became with the idea that this place in which I was so unhappy was meant to be my home. I was meant to spend my days nibbling on the negative and sipping from the cup of sarcasm. I was, I began to believe, meant to live in this Wonderland. I resigned myself to the idea that I would spend my life in a place that didn't make much sense to me. In the past, my world seemed dark and senseless. The actions I took and the mistakes I made seemed to have no meaning and there were times when I felt as if those around me were truly speaking a different language. I didn't understand why I had to follow so many rules and make so many choices that didn't seem to lead me to happiness at all. I didn't understand a lot of things and all of that confusion only led to more unhappiness.
There were periods of my life when I felt so different from the people around me that at times it felt like either I had gone mad or they were all mad. In some of my unhappiest of days I felt as if I was living in a world that literally made no sense whatsoever. I couldn't understand why people did what they did or, in some cases, why I was doing what I was doing. I would look around, wide-eyed, and recall Alice's words: "If I had a world of my own... nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would." I wanted to be in a different place, a world that made sense to me. I would close my eyes and wait to wake up, wait to open my eyes to a world in which everything had been turned upside down and finally made sense.
Lately I feel as if, as Alice eventually did, I am waking up. I feel as if now, with a positive attitude and a determination to see the good in life, I am opening my eyes and really seeing the world -- the real world. Wonderland, that place in which I lived with unhappiness and chaos and confusion, was an exciting place. It was intriguing and tempting and in some ways fascinating. But it wasn't real. As much fun as it was at times to live the way I used to -- indulging in anything and everything that I fancied, spending so much of my time trying to find my way, feeling lost and yet exhilarated by the possibilities of a world filled with nonsense -- I've found that my new reality is so much more brilliant and enticing than I would have ever imagined. Writing this today, I can only hear one thought echoing in my mind: I am so happy I finally woke up.
I feel a sense of freedom sometimes, no longer feeling trapped in a world that made no sense. Today the world makes sense to me. It makes me feel alive and excited. I am happy just to be here and to know that I did, eventually, wake up to a new life, a real life. But just because I now feel as if I am in a different place doesn't mean I don't still love Wonderland and all of the things I learned there. There are many things we can learn from the places that don't suit us, from the things that seem to make us uncomfortable and confused. Below are some of the lessons from Wonderland that helped me to become the person I am today. I hope you will read them and learn from them just as I've been doing all these years.
Decide where you want to be going.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to go," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't much matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Do you know where you want to go in life? Personally, I have an idea of where I want to be going, but not a certain, definite path. As the Cat says, if you don't know exactly where you want to go, you could end up just about anywhere. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you do have some sort of direction you want to be headed in, you should probably start going that way rather than just trying to get anywhere. Figure out what your path is and get on it! And remember: No one but you can point you in the direction or path that is right for you. It's up to you to find your path and start moving in the right direction. I know this all too well in terms of my own life. No one, no matter how hard some tried, was ever able to convince me to drop my negative attitude -- except me. I was the only one who was able to turn my life around and make it what I wanted it to be. It hasn't been easy and I've certainly had some help from the amazing people in my life, but it was ultimately up to me to get on the right path -- and stay there. If you don't know what your path is, give it some serious thought. If you are already on the best path for you, keep moving!
Stop doing things that get you nowhere.
"It takes all the running you can do,
to keep in the same place."
The Red Queen
What do you do that keeps you in the same place? Do you want your life to change but you keep doing the same things over and over again? I know his happens to me. Like many people, I find myself complaining about things that I chose to do. I will make choices and then I will be unhappy with them afterward. Listen to the Queen. The Queen is right. Sometimes -- okay, often -- it feels easier to keep doing what you've been doing because it's comfortable. We can get so set in our ways, in rationalizing our behavior to make it seem okay, but we're actually making things a lot harder on ourselves. Just think about your life for a minute. Are you doing things that are making it harder on you? Are you staying in situations that make you unhappy because it seems easier than getting out of them? Are you putting yourself in positions where you have to compromise yourself because it seems easier? Think about how much time and effort and mental energy that takes just to stay where you are, to keep doing what you're doing. It seems like it would be hard to leave or change, but, really, it's harder to stay the same. Remember what the Queen said and remember this: don't ever, ever settle for less than what you deserve in life.
Believe in what seems impossible.
"There's no use in trying," Alice said, "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always it it for half an hour a day.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
How many of us are like Alice, so certain that something is impossible that we don't even give it a try? People who succeed in life do so because they try and because they have a good attitude. They make an effort. They do, rather than just thinking about doing. This is hard though. Trust me, I know. I want to be a writer. I want to write novels that people love and relate to. While I've drafted some articles and even written a novel (that I've shared with no one), have I really done anything to pursue my dream? Not really. In fact, I often sit back and say to myself, "Oh, that probably won't happen so I guess I'll just stay where I am." I think to myself, "I'm doing some writing so it's fine." Nope. This is not fine. Or, rather, it is fine, but "fine" is not what makes dreams into realities. Fine is not what makes my novel suddenly appear on bookshelves everywhere. No, I have to do more than fine. I have to believe that things that might seem impossible are possible. No matter what your dreams are, no matter what you envision for your life, you can make it happen. It won't always come easily, but you have to believe.
Figure out who you are.
"Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual.
I wonder if I've changed in the night? Let me think...
Was I the same when I got up this morning?
I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.
But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?'
Ah, that's the great puzzle!"
Who are you? Ah, the great and mind-boggling question. Do you really know who you are? I'm not sure anyone really 100% knows who they are (or even really will), but I do believe that some of us have a better idea than others. Why? Because some people actually want to know who they are. If you're reading this blog (and weren't already turned off by the crazy Alice in Wonderland nonsense I'm spewing here), you're most likely a thinker, a soul-searcher. You want to know who you are which puts you a HUGE step ahead of most people, people who just move through life not knowing and not caring who they are. Your life will always be changing and new experiences will happen to you all the time. Like Alice, you might find your world turned upside down one day. As unsettling as life can sometimes be, if you know who you are, you have a foundation on which to always rest. You can be certain in one thing: yourself. Keep exploring yourself and trying to learn more about you because everything you learn about yourself can help you in life. Knowing who you are will keep you sane and help you to grapple with whatever curve balls life throws at you.
Communicate carefully with others.
"You should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied. "At least I mean what I say.
That's the same thing you know."
Is saying what you mean and meaning what you say the same thing? I'm pretty sure it's not. You should think about this: Do you really say what you mean? Do you really mean what you say? Communication, for me, is tough. I don't always say what I mean either because I am afraid to or because I'm not sure exactly what I mean. I spend a lot of time thinking, but not all that much time thinking before I speak. Not surprisingly, my lacking communication abilities often lead to confusion and problems. I've learned (and am still learning more and more every day) that it's much better to take some time to figure out what you mean rather than saying things that may be the opposite of, or not even related to, what you mean to say. And, on the other hand, it's important to mean what you say. When you tell someone something, mean it. Don't just speak to speak. It can be hard to communicate with others. In some ways, we're all in our own little worlds and what makes sense to us doesn't always make sense to others. However, I've found that if you take the time to really think about what you want to say and if you really mean the words that come out of your mouth, things in life go a lot more smoothly.
As you can see, there's a lot to be learned from Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. If you haven't already read the book and seen the movie, you should definitely do so. Tim Burton's version comes out today and it's sure to be awesome (albeit a bit darker than the beloved Disney classic). Thinking about how much I've learned from Alice's tale reminds me that we can learn not only from the people in our lives and from our own experiences, but from books and music and quotes and films. Pay attention. There's a lot out there that can teach us if we just take the time to be aware of it. This weekend take some time to about your favorite book or film or even quote. Why does that mean so much to you? What about that book/film/etc. do you really like? You would be surprised how much you can learn about yourself when you take the time to think about the things you really enjoy. For as long as I can recall, I've loved the story of Alice in Wonderland. Its only now that I'm starting to realize just how much I get out of Carroll's novel and just how much I can learn about myself from exploring one of the things I love most. Take some time to think about what you love and you'll most likely uncover a lot more about yourself than you ever would have imagined.