Nothing can make your inner child want to crawl out, climb up on the countertop, wail like a wild thing, dance until their ankles hurt, and truly let the wild rumpus start quite like Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
Sendak sadly passed away in 2012, but left behind a legacy of wildness, artistry, and play. He believed in the power, intelligence, and bravery of children, and how, in many ways, kids are far more advanced than adults because they haven’t yet been taught to shut down and hide the way society wills us to.
Letting your inner child just live is a vital part of adulthood; without your inner child, life would seem so dreary, cold, and gray. You have to allow yourself the freedom to feel and express the thoughts and emotions that are flowing through you. You have to treat yourself the way you would treat a child in your care. Feed yourself the things you enjoy, give yourself the time to rest, allow yourself the wiggle-room to make mistakes and fumble (a lot), and just let yourself play.
Here are seventeen quotes to inspire you to do just that from the king of childhood himself, Maurice Sendak:
1. Art has always been my salvation. And my gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart. And when Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something I can’t explain — I don’t need to. I know that if there’s a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart. Or if I walk in the woods and I see an animal, the purpose of my life was to see that animal. I can recollect it, I can notice it. I’m here to take note of. And that is beyond my ego, beyond anything that belongs to me, an observer, an observer.
2. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things.
3. And the walls became the world all around.
4. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.
5. Knowledge is that driving force that puts creative passion to work.
6. Children are tough, though we tend to think of them as fragile. They have to be tough. Childhood is not easy. We sentimentalize children, but they know what’s real and what’s not. They understand metaphor and symbol.
7. A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is beautiful. Even as a kid, my sister, who was the eldest, brought books home for me, and I think I spent more time sniffing and touching them than reading. I just remember the joy of the book, the beauty of the binding. The smelling of the interior. Happy.
8. As an aspiring artist, you should strive for originality of vision. Have something to say and a fresh way of saying it. No story is worth the writing, no picture worth the making, if it’s not the work of the imagination.
9. Grown-ups desperately need to feel safe, and then they project onto the kids. But what none of us seem to realize is how smart kids are. They don’t like what we write for them, what we dish up for them, because it’s vapid, so they’ll go for the hard words, they’ll go for the hard concepts, they’ll go for the stuff where they can learn something. Not didactic things, but passionate things.
10. Truthfulness to life—both fantasy life and factual life—is the basis of all great art.
11. It’s only adults who read the top layers most of the time. I think children read the internal meanings of everything.
12. The qualities that make for excellence in children’s literature can be summed up in a single word: imagination.
13. Why my needle is stuck in childhood, I don’t know. I guess that’s where my heart is.
14. There’s so much more to a book than just reading.
15. I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.
16. I am in love with the world.
17. I have nothing now but praise for my life. I am not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more…There are so many beautiful things in this world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.
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