EARLY Childhood Training…

Sometimes a trip up to Colorado Springs is filled with poignant moments. I lived here from the time I was 14 until I was 20, though some of that time I was “away” (85 miles) at college. A lot happened here. It’s amazing to think of the compression of events in childhood, teen years, and young adulthood. At that point in our lives we’re all in a hurry, too. To grow up, to find out “what we’re going to be,” some girls “to be a bride,” to have a family, to have a career, all these things. I remember feeling a LOT of that during the years I lived here. All that, and it seems like adulthood lasts a long time — and not.

I read a little article — a study done at Yale — last night that said scientists have found that it’s likely mammals dream of this world — earth, our species specific lives — before they’re born, kind of an intensive, pre-employment training, maybe like the simulation training astronauts have. Of course, so far the scientists were just studying mice, but it’s not difficult to imagine that even humans — who are among the slowest mammals to reach self-sufficient adulthood — would have some of that evolutionary adaptation, too. It made me wonder about if there’s more of that in prey animals than those who prey upon them. The article (“Eyes Wide Shut”) says, “Mice, of course, differ from humans in their ability to quickly navigate their environment soon after birth. However, human babies are also able to immediately detect objects and identify motion, such as a finger moving across their field of vision, suggesting that their visual system was also primed before birth. Or do prey animals have early visions of lunch and how to find it?

I was intrigued. The earliest dream I remember — and it was a recurring dream — is of going down a long hallway in a hospital. The walls were the green of hospital walls back in the 50’s. The hallway was black and white tiles. Of course, when I was 2 years old, I didn’t know that was a hospital image — or school. I had the dream from time to time until I started school. On both sides of the hallway were doors and I had to choose one. That necessity of choice made the dream a nightmare. And, I have to say, that scenario has happened over and over in my life. What is the right choice?

One thing I loved about living in the People’s Republic of China was that there were very few choices and in many things, no choice at all. The desired thing either was there or it wasn’t. If there was bread there was bread, “Ma Sa! Mien bao!” someone would come and tell me, and I’d hurry to the school bakery to buy bread. Occasionally there was yogurt somewhere in the city. I would ride my bicycle to wherever that was and buy as much as I could carry home. I would use one small bottle to culture my own yogurt from powdered milk and enjoy the rest of it as long as it lasted.

That hallway is a distinctly human metaphor and a modern one. I googled “hallway with doors,” and there was an option, “creepy hallway of doors,” and one of the first images offered was that which I’ve used as the featured photo.

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