One of my favorite tales is of Max, a boy who is sent to his room as punishment and who subsequently explores his “wild side.” With monsters he meets along the way and who crown him, he allows himself a “wild rumpus.” He is literally the king of every thing he can see, adored by all around him, yet he chooses to leave; to return home. To safety and to those who love him.
In my world view, I see this as a story standing for the proposition that what matters in life is doing right by the people who love you, because they are the people most likely to stand by you. After his temper tantrum, after his banishment to his room, his mother – despite her obvious irritation, if not anger with him – has a hot dinner waiting.
Carelessness. Anger. Love. Redemption. The reality of life. In a little more than 300 words.
Sendak had a certain reality as well. He was gay at a time when being so wasn’t accepted. To this point, while he affected my life in helping me accept some of the realities of my life, he had to hide his sexuality from his parents, “they never knew,” and really only became publicly identified as gay when his partner passed away in 2007.
In one of his last interviews in September 2011, he reflects on his career and at the end he repeats, almost on a loop: “Live your life, live your life, live your life.” I take that to mean that you really need to accept who you are – an angry young man in Max, or the thoughtful elder artist Sendak himself had become – and be present. Life in the present. Be mindful. Don’t take anything for granted.
A wildly inspiring notion once you can stop worrying about the external and concern yourself with those things that make you a more fulfilled and perhaps more interesting person. This is your life, no one else’s. Go live it to your potential. Achieve and thrive.
Here is the last 5 minutes of that interview