But then I started to muse about what more abstract, but still very specific, things have stuck in my head from reading children's books. Things that are more guidelines for living than facts, and not big guidelines, like respecting others, but little things.
For example, in Elizabeth Goudge's The Valley of Song (a lovely book, but be sure to read it when you are young, because it's better that way), various children meet their signs of the Zodiac. The Capricorn child must plunge into a dark abyss, and is afraid. But "No child of mine, born to the hardness of the cold nights and the lashings of the winter winds, was ever a coward." says Capricorn (page 140) And in goes the boy. I'm a Capricorn, so whenever I have to go to the dentist, or get up on a cold morning, or deal with even worse crises, this pops into my head, and quite often stiffens my spine...
And there's this bit, from Taran Wander, by Lloyd Alexander:
Taran has learned how to weave, after much laborious effort. But then:
"The pattern," he murmured, frowning. "It-I don't know, somehow it doesn't please me."This one comes into my head a lot. And often it has spurred me on to make changes, to start again, even though it is hard.
"Now then, Wanderer," replied Dwyvach, "no man put a sword to your throat; the choice of pattern was your own."
"That it was," Taran admitted. "but now I see it closely, I would rather have chosen another."
"Ah, ah," said Dwyvach, with her dry chuckle, "in that case you have but one of two things to do. Either finish a cloak you'll be ill-content to wear, or unravel it and start anew. For the loom weaves only the pattern set upon it."
Taran stared a long while at his handiwork. At last he took a deep breath, sighed, and shook his head. "So be it. I'll start anew."
And finally, here's one that mercifully has faded somewhat. Thanks to Meg Murray in The Wind in the Door, and the test involving Mr. Jenkins, I used to lie awake at night trying to think loving thoughts about my middle school principle. It is possible that this made me a better person, more apt to see the good in everyone I meet....it is equally possible it simply inflated my high opinion of myself.
I am, however, very grateful that, pious child though I was, I never felt compelled to play Pollyanna's Glad Game.