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Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Temptation"


I've told you before about my odd childhood neighborhood.  It's hidden by cliffs, river, and woods, and summer people gardened in warm weather.  In winter their houses were closed up and a lot of forbidden things were left laying around to tempt a child.  It was like nuclear winter after all the organic beings are vaporized.

In the ways of The Glen, "The Dentist" had half a house.  Lutsch, the bastard next door, disputed the property line even though he already had a lot of land, but the powers that be redrew the property line right through the middle of The Dentist's house.  He quit coming to the Glen and I missed him.  When he still had a whole house he used to come down with his kids and we did fun projects in his workshop in the backyard.

The Dentist left a camper on his property.  It was there so long that the tropical rainforest grew all around it, but the mattresses inside were still good.  I made a nest for myself with all the pillows and opened all the windows so I could read in peace, my little dog curled up beside me.  Nature forgot I was there and I observed my universe in a naturalist's leaf green bubble with birds and grasshoppers chirping incessantly while d'Artagnan swashbuckled his way to England to save the queen's honor.

Living in so much isolation, I didn't get the usual restraints most children get.  Nobody but me knew if I broke into a summer home, and breaking and entering wasn't covered in Sunday school.  I knew I wasn't supposed to steal, but nobody said I couldn't spy on my neighbors' personal lives and property or make myself comfortable in their homes or camper.  It was up to me to decide what was right or wrong.  It wasn't always a smooth path to my moral set of ethics and I gave in to my temptations regularly.

I suppose I should probably also say that I had some terrible examples of moral behavior.  Poaching out of season was a given, as was trespassing.  Adults cheated on their spouses and the older boys operated a major drug ring.  The Glen was interesting in a multitude of ways.

I felt in my heart that Lutsch was a greedy bastard to wreck someone else's house because he didn't want to look at it.  That was clear enough.  If I coveted something in someone's summer house I had to decide for myself if the owner would miss it, or is it just wrong to take someone else's stuff?  I developed empathy by thinking it through.  How would I feel if someone took my things?

Each new ethic I laid into personal law created a platform for nuances in future laws, but in the end I decided the cardinal law was that my rights ended where someone else's began.  I haven't seen any reason to alter that basic tenet.  I wish everybody else followed it, including governments.

When I felt guilt as a child, it was because I broke my own rules.  My guilt could be devastating.  I didn't feel guilty when someone else told me I was supposed to feel guilty because their rules weren't mine.  Over time I grew into my ethics without the pain of struggling to figure out what they are.  They just are.  Now my temptations are simpler, but harder to break.  If this action only hurts me, well then...

17 comments:

  1. Methinks there's a Great American Novel in the tales of "The Glen"... :)

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  2. Sometimes I think that too Rand :)

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  3. I think you must have been the original "Wild Thing..." (As in the picture book, not the song.) :-)

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  4. That's a terrible story which seems to be about greed. But I wonder what the whole story is! I can't believe it's legal to draw a property line through the middle of someone's house holy cow! Very striking illustration of the story!

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  5. A friend suggested to me that if I gathered up all my blog posts I'd have a book about the Glen. Of course anybody can just read them for free here, but maybe I'll take the time to write the longer stories sometime. Thanks for the comments!

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  6. Some people never grow up! I was an only child so I never had to draw any lines. But I over heard a few property dispute stories from the grown ups as well.

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  7. Can't tell you how many times I envied only children Sharon :)

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  8. Great story-telling, Linda. I totally felt drawn in to this place through your memories. I agree- - it's novel time!

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  9. Thanks Mit! If only someone paid my bills so I could spend time writing novels :)

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  10. Yeah, I feel the same way! Would love to spend all my time drawing! Sigh!

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  11. Interesting reflection, Linda and an interesting very modern illustration.

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  12. Very creative treatment of what would seemingly be one's safe haven. Now, if people could learn to live harmoniously without obsessing over lines in the sand and other boundaries... :o)

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  13. Hope springs eternal Michele. Good to see you in blogland again. Thanks for the comments everybody!

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  14. I enjoy all the stories behind your art. This image of the house and red trees is striking, but what lies behind the proper facade ...

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