Today is Alice’s Birthday

Today is the Fourth of July, America’s birthday.

It’s also the day Alice in Wonderland was born, not to be confused with an un-birthday or half-birthday.

On July 4, 1862, Charles Dodgson, who published under the pen name Lewis Carroll, began telling three sisters a story. It so captivated and delighted the middle sister, Alice Liddell, that she begged him to finish it. Two and a half years later, he presented to her a leather-bound copy of Alice in Wonderland as a Christmas gift.

Peter Pan also grew out of the stories Sir James Barrie used to entertain children of the Davies family.

Both of these whimsical fairy tales are interwoven in the fabric of my childhood. I loved that Alice, bored when her sister ignored her, found such fanciful adventures after following a talking rabbit. As I read, I could go along with her to Wonderland, shrink and grow, attend a mad tea party, and play croquet with playing cards. Or, in the pages of another book, I could take flight with Peter Pan, swim with mermaids, and fight pirates.

The genius of Carroll and Barrie is timeless. As a writer, I’m encouraged that stories meant to entertain a few children grew to become enduring classics. They started from just a seed, without expectation, without a plan.

I often think of endings – from how the book I’m reading will conclude, to what my children will do when they graduate, and what my retirement will look like. Of course I remind myself to live in the present, really enjoy the experience of things. But I forget just how important beginnings are. Sometimes you just have to start on something. Take the first lesson on a foreign language. Save the first dollar. Write the first sentence. Because it will lead to the next one and the next and the next. And the ending might be something spectacularly beyond your wildest dreams, if you only you begin, plant the seed. All you need is just a spark of creativity. And maybe faith and trust. You don’t even need the pixie dust.

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