{6 ways to be a wild thing}

By now you probably have seen the trailer for the movie Where the Wild Things Are. You may have read the book as a child. I did not, but the trailer gave me goosebumps and teary eyes. A week ago, I bought the book for my 6 year old son. Together, we read it for the first time. I can see the appeal. It got me thinking; this book has touched countless lives for just shy of 50 years. It’s so simple, yet it stirs up a world of complicated emotions. Why?

We are like Max. As children, this is easier to admit and to see. As an adult, it is harder to admit why we still relate to the book for reasons other than childhood nostalgia. Perhaps we need a reminder on how to be a wild thing like Max. I’ve broken it into 6 points:

Have you been mischievous? Yes, you have. Admit it. It’s ok. Just because we are older doesn’t mean that we aren’t still jumping around terrorizing the dog in our wolf suits.

It’s ok to be angry. Feel your emotions, don’t hide them. We tend to rationalize our emotions. We try to validate them. We compare them with what we think we should feel or how others feel. The problem with that is emotions are not rational. Only you can feel what you feel. Yes, we can explore what triggered the emotion, but we shouldn’t try to measure whether or not its ok to feel that way.

Max is having fun causing mischief and his mom gets frustrated. She calls him a “Wild Thing” and he says “I’ll eat you up!” Max’s mother gets angry with him and sends him to his room. From the outside, we say that Max’s mother has reason to be angry, but Max does not. That doesn’t change how he feels, does it? No. Max’s pride is hurt and he is angry, too. Max pouts for a moment, but he doesn’t dwell. This isn’t a story about how Max conquered his anger by telling himself that anger is pointless. Max lets his emotions run their course. So what do we learn?

We don’t need our emotions to be rational. We only need our actions to be.

Let a wild forest grow when you get sent to your room. In other words, use your imagination. When we were kids, we all got sent to our room or had to be somewhere bored. What did we all do? We played. We imagined. We created stories. Now that you’re an adult, do you still do this? Why not? Shame? Do you think it’s unproductive or beneath you? I’ll let you in on a secret: the most exciting and creative people keep this skill from childhood.

Look what you fear straight in the eyes without blinking and roar. The roar is optional. Max looked the wild things in the eyes and said “BE STILL!” and they were. You can do this magic trick, too. What is it that you are afraid of? It’s ok if you can’t do it at first. Do like Max and vividly imagine yourself as you’d like to be. The more comfortable and real it seems to you in your imagination, the easier it will be to do it when the time comes.

When things get bad, let the wild rumpus begin. Make the best of the worst. When you’re afraid, bored, in a new place, or if you have just conquered a fear, move on from the dark mood into a light one. Max conquered the wild things and then threw a party with them. They loved him for that. The people around you will adore you for being the one to show them a good time in the middle of a not so good time.

Do not stay in the land of monsters, even if you are called the King of the Wild Things. The rumpus must end at some point. We must not forget to come back and deal with reality. We all want to be where someone loves us best. Pride tends to stop us from returning. Pride is stupid. The people who love us will forgive us. The thing is that in a fight, more often than not, both sides are angry. Like Max, you may have been in the wrong, but you might be angry, too. We should forgive ourselves and the other person. We need to let it go.

Images {via} lookbook.nu, Warner Brothers and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

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4 thoughts on “{6 ways to be a wild thing}

  1. lovely post. you must be so young, to not have read this book as a child. i’m so glad you discovered it now. check out some of maaurice sendak’s other books. for some reason this is his most well loved and well known, but my childhood favorite was “outside over there.” I used to go to sleep at night hoping so much that I would dream I was Ida from that book. And to show how timeless his work in general is, one of my 2 year old’s favorites is “The Night Kitchen”. All three of these stories share a common dreamlike imagination theme. Much love for Sendak!
    .-= corinne┬┤s last blog ..Addendum to the Languages Post =-.

    • It’s odd. The book was popular when I was a kid, but somehow it was never read to me and I never picked it up until I bought it for my son. I’m very glad to have discovered it, too! I’ll pick up his other books as you’ve suggested.

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