If my childhood were condensed into one ultimate symbol, it would be The Pillow-Blanket-Fortress-Tent-Teepee.
Where the pillow fort was, so was the magic of long afternoons on summer days. As with any structure, it must be built in ideal climate conditions: air-conditioning (because mom and dad would agree it was a very hot day). A pillow fort meant the pure, uninhibited freedom of childhood creativity. It was the form and body of my imagination and genius, a kind of special thing that was special, not only in itself, but that it would open door upon door to worlds and other special places that grew more plentiful the longer you looked. The inner walls made of blankets and pillows made it home: a protected place I could call mine. It was a sacred sanctuary, where others needed permission to enter (keys to the kingdom for allies and family), and when inside, to abide by my rules. For the hoarder in me, chairs made adequate storage shelves for books, random objects, and of course, the maps of the territory. And while the walls were made of blankets, pillows, and soft things, they always kept the savages, enemies, and dark forces outside, because places like these are built with more than meets the eye.
No two fortressed are alike. They will always vary in form, or in the inherent specialness… the intangible qualities influenced by intention, the builders, and simply, the moment. Pillow forts are not constrained to being at home, or in a room. We once collapsed the car seats and built a huge tent at the back of a Tamaraw FX. Needless to say, it was one of the most enjoyable road trips with my family.
A pillow fortress captures the uncontainable passion, wild imagination, and eagerness to create that so defined myself once. It was in these fortresses that the love of what I do is captured in its purest essence. It isn’t surprising that illustrating the above image brought a torrent of sadness, because the more I remembered it, the more I realized how different I’ve grown up to be from the child I loved being. I once watched a video where the speaker shared a realization: that we don’t become different the older we get. The difference we perceive is actually us growing more into the people we’ve always been. As children we are born with a set of characteristics/traits/unique personality, which becomes more amplified and more pronounced over time and experience.
Perhaps I’m a emotional/psychological Benjamin Button, because the fire that was once so distinct and moving is gone. Who hath stolen the fire from the heavens? God knows. It frustrates me that I may have had a better grasp of my identity as a child, and that somewhere along the way, I lost myself. Most times, I feel more like a robotic, functional being… someone who just goes through the motions (youth is wasted on the youth!) and the routine of daily living. Except that I am aware that I’m living like a ghost… it’s just that I still don’t know how to get past this way of existence.
Maybe I just need a jolt inspiration. Or a break. Or maybe I just need to find the most fitting job or medium on which to translate the worlds and ideas hidden inside… assuming that the burning inspiration… that ‘specialness’ will return. It gives me hope to think that I’m on my way to waking up… to regaining the muchness (to borrow a term from Alice in Wonderland) as it once was, and with a vengeance.
I will build pillow fortresses yet again. And plenty other sorts after that.