This blog is not for the light-hearted or easily offended. If either one of those descriptions applies to you, i would suggest you start drinking before you read this blog. A sense of humor is suggested. If you don't have one that sucks for you … find one and get a life!

In which i discuss “Harold and the Purple Crayon”

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” was published in 1955 and still might be the best metaphor for life ever written. Have you read Harold and the Purple Crayon? Because you should, and your children should read it too. Here’s the basic premise:

Harold is a little boy and one night, he decides to go for a walk in the moonlight and he realizes that “there wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost. And he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him.”

Now obviously, I’m not going to tell the entire book here but suffice it to say that he went for a walk and ended up on a whale of an adventure. Every time Harold needed to “add” to his adventure, he simply used his “big purple crayon” to create whatever it was that he needed. After a long and exhausting journey Harold decides he wants to go home and eventually, figures out that home is where his bed is with a view of the moon out his window. He draws it, crawls into bed and “the purple crayon dropped on the floor. And Harold dropped off to sleep.”

Why is this so important and why do I think it’s the best metaphor ever written? I’ll tell you and feel free to disagree with me if you’d like. Harold wants to do something so he creates it. He creates his adventure. He creates his world and every time he encounters some sort of problem, he creates a solution. When he was hungry, he drew an apple tree. When he wanted a picnic, he created pies. Too much pie? A hungry moose and porcupine were available to help eat it. Harold did what we all want to do but are too afraid to try. He set off on an adventure, of his own choosing, not really thinking about what came next and where he would end up. These issues were big and small but Harold, and his trusty purple crayon, drew himself right out of them whether by “drawing” a boat, a balloon or at the end, his own bed. He wasn’t scared of what he might find along the way trusting that he could figure out some way to move on, move past the encumbrance.

We don’t do that anymore. Adults don’t do that. We’re scared. We don’t take risks. Kids dream and they dream big. None of the “practicalities” of life interfere with their dreams. Harold wanted an adventure and there weren’t any limits placed upon it. Sure, things were different in 1955 from they are now. When I was a kid we took off in the morning on our bikes and showed up at sundown. We had bike trails and forts in the woods. We ran wild and free. It was a different time when the dangers of the “real” world were few and far between. Fear wasn’t a part of our basic vocabulary. Even after my brother was hit by a car and almost killed, we didn’t view the world with cynicism and dismay.

My kids didn’t grow up this way. There was “stranger danger,” traffic, and many other real issues to keep them from being far-ranging in their play. I didn’t let them touch base only once a day. But still, there’s the dream that you can go off and have your adventure. That life doesn’t have to be so regulated and restricted. That you too can find your own “purple crayon” and follow your dreams. One of the goals I have always had for my kids is to let them follow their dreams and to be what they want, go where they desire. Do I expect them to buckle down and achieve in school? Of course I do but that doesn’t negate my teaching them to take risks. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is one of my favorite things to say. You can play it safe and risk nothing. You don’t “lose” but you also don’t “win.”

So, let’s all take our cue from Harold, find our own purple crayons and go draw out the life we want, not just the one that’s in front of us!

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  1. Vodka Mom
    November 26, 2010

    I totally AGREE! And you know what? I don't believe in regrets, either. You can't change ANYTHING, so why waste your heart and soul worrying about it???

  2. Sarah
    November 26, 2010

    I wish it was easy as drawing a picture to get what you want! I could do with my own purple crayon.

    Ah well, I'll just have to do it the hard way. Work.

  3. Very Bored in Catalunya
    November 26, 2010

    This is such a lovely post, if only we could just pick up a crayon and depict the life we want.

  4. Mom-on-a-Wire
    November 26, 2010

    We did it, admittedly we used a pencil with an eraser, but we created our own adventure and we're still living it!

    Great post!

  5. Copyboy
    November 26, 2010

    Wow!!! I loved Harold as a kid. Thanks for enhancing my memory by analyzing the true meaning of it. Happy post-turkey day. BTW…how are the boots treating you?

  6. EmmaK
    November 26, 2010

    Being as my husband says 'mentally aged 13' I can say I do and have taken a lot of risks ie I moved to USA with my husband after knowing him for 2 months and of that we'd spent 6 days together (he was in Ireland and I was in UK)….I have a very large purple crayon and am not afraid to use it!

  7. Michael
    November 27, 2010

    I had this book, and I think maybe a couple of the sequels, as a child. Thanks for reminding me of them again!

  8. LilPixi
    November 27, 2010

    I love this post & have to somehow read this book now.

  9. Kelley
    November 28, 2010

    I have never read it but it's going in my 6 y/o's stocking this Christmas! Thanks for the book summary. Loved it!

  10. Carolyn (temysmom)
    November 28, 2010

    I love this post so much. You got it so right… we don't take enough chances and go for what we want. We really need to focus on making the things we want actually happen.

  11. kris
    December 5, 2010

    I loved reading these books with my daughters when they were younger. The language has a lovely rhythm for reading aloud. Happy sighs at that memory.

    Such an innocence to these stories. A sense of being not-of-this time and not-of-this place. A dream.

    Each of us has a crayon with which to create a life.

    But we do not create the lives we lead all by ourselves.

    Other crayons enter the picture, and sometimes?

    There is scribbling.

    Just saying.

  12. gps ratings
    April 19, 2011

    Just discovered this blog through Bing, what a pleasant shock!

    • Lynn
      April 19, 2011

      thanks…hope you continue reading

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