After only one preliminary session with Dibs, Axline wrote, "I had respect for his inner strength and capacity. He was a child of great courage." The playroom became the place where he could safely explore and express his inner world, and I know that in all of my many readings of this book, I have always learned something about myself every time I've read it.
There are no limits to what Dibs can play with in the playroom. There are paints, and army men, a tea set, a dollhouse, farm animals, and on a very special day, a set of figures and buildings with which Dibs can create his own world. His play with the dollhouse during one session makes it possible for him to express his anguish: "I weep because I feel again the hurt of closed and locked against me," he sobbed.
May we all find the courage of Dibs to be ourselves.
I recently read a blog by Steve Haskin on the Blood Horse in which he wrote about one woman's crusade to save racehorses in danger of being sold for slaughter, and asking why so many who could, do so little. He said that he couldn't do his first Derby Dozen of the year without getting that off his chest.
There's been a lot written and spoken about issues of gender, race, sexual harassment, sexual orientation/identification, natural disasters, genocides, the environment, wars, and immigration to name a few. At times, it feels overwhelming trying to figure out how to respond, and where to put your energies and/or financial support. How do you even speak or write about it without causing offense, even unwittingly?
That's not to say the larger issues don't need to be addressed on a larger stage. They do. But for most of us, trying to figure out what the heck to do or say, we could do a lot worse than follow Dina's example, and follow the words of Dick Francis.
May I deal with honour,
May I act with courage,
May I achieve humility...
To give you some idea of what I love about his novels, and I've read every one of them, I'll describe each of the three I got for Christmas. Decider is pictured above, and is unusual in that the protagonist Lee Morris, an architect and builder, has six children and five of them are with him throughout the book. His awareness of their individual and collective needs, balanced against his personal needs and desires, is one of the through lines of the book. Francis shows us Lee's individual relationship with each of them, particularly Christopher, the eldest; Neil, the youngest (of those with him); and Toby, the troubled middle child. Their presence is woven into the plot, and provides a counterpoint to the dysfunctional family that owns and operates the racecourse with which Lee finds himself entangled. The boys are part of the climactic scene in the book, as both victims and heroes.
If you're like me, you're saying to yourself, no that's not true. You feel that rush of adrenalin when you're afraid, right? And that is accurate. However, when something happens, you are in that moment. You aren't thinking, I'm afraid this dog will bite me. When the dog bites, you react. It isn't fear, it's response.
The fear comes during your anticipation of what might happen. Your mind runs through the possibilities, evaluates options, plans actions. The fear is about what might happen in the future. The response is how you react to what does happen in the moment.
I suppose that each reader will have to determine for themselves what choice I made. I know which one I think I made, and I can only hope that it will translate to the page.
Thank you for your choices, your commitments, your expressions.
Carol (Doc) Dougherty
An avid reader, writer, and student, with a penchant for horse racing, Shakespeare, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wake Up and Write Writer's Retreat Workshop