463. Happy Endings

I love happy endings. I always have. I like comedies. I don’t mean funny shows; some of them are good and some aren’t. I mean shows and books that move from disorder to order. That definition is what makes “comedy” the opposite of “tragedy;” tragedies move from order to disorder. Art is supposed to imitate life. Of course, theatre and literature can’t do perfect imitations, partly because ideally, both end before the lives of the audience end. But comedies do remind me of various parts of my life that I like.
Children tend to love happy endings, too. Some are learning earlier and earlier not to – to love what I consider grotesque and cynical art. But I know they start out wanting everything to end up okay; they want the orphan to be adopted by some loving couple, or the child who couldn’t see, hear, or walk to have a miraculous recovery. People who write and produce art for children are often less subtle than those who write for adults; subtlety doesn’t reach children as much as it reaches adults. But children can get it, too.
I have a friend who is quite familiar with Russian culture, and she tells me that my story “Who Cares?” is charming, but not at all like the Russian literature I was trying to imitate when I wrote it; it’s too positive. I’ve read a lot of Russian literature, and I disagree with her. In fact, my story was inspired by a story written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, reputed to be the king of gloom. Dostoevsky’s “Dream of a Ridiculous Man” is about a man who starts out believing that nothing matters, and grows, through a dream, to care about people. And “ridiculous” doesn’t refer to that caring.
Children’s negative and gloomy thoughts and moods have to be respected; if children are only allowed to show their sunny sides, they aren’t being allowed to be all they are. And I’ve seen adults scold children for not being totally cheerful, or ignore children’s problems. Those children have to go elsewhere to be heard, or worse, not be heard at all. And that’s not a happy ending.
When I’m in a good mood (which, so far, is most of the time), I think about the pleasant things that have happened, are happening, and will happen. I have two daughters I love, and they love me. I have many good friends, too. I’ve been doing my favorite work all my adult life – teaching. And I’ve also been doing my second favorite work for most of my life – making music. In fact, both can be done at once. I expect to stay involved in teaching and music for a long time, and I’m excited about that. My life has also had divorce, disease, and a few other problems. They’re just as real, and I have good friends who help me through the difficult stuff. Let’s try to be such friends for children.

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