There isn’t enough said about Norman Rockwell. Someday soon I need to do a whole post about him, after I’ve done enough librarianly research to give an educated report. I’ve been in love with his artwork ever since my aunt gave my mother a series of framed print of his magazine covers. Nothing says “nostalgia” like a Norman Rockwell painting.
Tonight I’d like to call your attention to one painting in particular.
This painting is called “Lands of Enchantment.” The boy in the painting—the kind of boy that he is—has almost died out in our world. Little boys rarely dream these days. From day one, their minds are stuffed with trash instead of stories, and grow up having no imagination, no notion that any world exists outside the limits of their narrow experience, and no sense of wonder. These are the boys who replaced their umbilical cords with game console cables shortly after birth. These are the lost boys who never went to Neverland.
I have been looking for the boy in this picture for twenty years.
I have had some success. There are three little boys of my acquaintance (I say “little”—the oldest is gaining on me, height wise, and the youngest will soon be too big for me to pick up anymore) who have imaginations like this kid’s. They build forts out of scrap wood and run around reenacting The Lord of the Rings. I wish I could be 11 so I could join in. When I was 11, everyone else my age considered themselves too grown up for such things. I was Arwen on my own. These three have each other and their imaginations. I hope they know how blessed they are.
I wonder if they know how rare they are.
In the unlikely event that I should have a son or two, I will make sure they’ve been reading independently for years before they so much as know what a video game is. I’ve seen to many potentially wonderful young men ruined at an early age by being baby-sat by a television screen. It’s like we live in a nation of Gastons who uncaringly toss pictureless books into the mud. In case you hadn’t noticed, this fact bothers me. If there was something to do to reverse the effects of mindless entertainment on little girls and little boys alike, believe me, I would. As things are, I am powerless.
But I know that out there, somewhere, the boy in this picture is alive and well. By now I’m sure he has grown up into an imaginative thinker and doer. I can only hope that he’s not alone.