Just about everyone is familiar with Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: the story of a young girl who chased a white rabbit down a hole and ended up in a magical world.
Aside from being what sounds like an account of the author’s most potent acid trip, the tale is actually full of some rather splendid life lessons, if we but take the time to pay attention to them.
Taking Risks Can Lead To Wonderful Adventures
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If Alice hadn’t chosen to leap down that rabbit hole, she wouldn’t have encountered the wonderful friends she found in Wonderland. She wouldn’t have gleaned wisdom from her experiences, found that she could be responsible and assertive when she needed to be, and that although some spectacularly weird things can happen in life, they tend to turn out okay.
Venturing into the unknown is scary. We all know that. There’s no indication of what may lie on the other side of the tunnel, but we’ll never find out if we don’t explore, right? Comfort zones may feel “safe,” but nothing ever grows in them.
“We’re All Mad Here”
This one is pretty much spot on, but in a good way, and can be followed with “You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
Most of us have quirks that we’re self conscious about, or just freak out about the fact that we feel like we’re on the verge of falling apart while everyone else around us seems to have everything under control.
You know what? There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t struggle with a veritable smorgasbord of issues. And that’s totally okay. Our idiosyncrasies make us unique and awesome, and the awareness that we’re all batsh*t crazy gives us the opportunity to grow, and evolve, and help each other along during our journeys on this wild little planet.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then”
You’re not the same person that you were five minutes ago, let alone yesterday, or a month ago, or five years ago. We are all constantly changing and evolving as we continue to grow and learn, and it’s important to recognize that this is just as true as everyone else as it is for you.
We’ve learned from our mistakes, our struggles, and every experience we’ve been through, and all of those change us. It’s important to love and accept yourself for the person you are now, not what may have occurred in the past: you’re not that person anymore.
“I Give Myself Very Good Advice, But I Very Seldom Follow It”
How often have you known damned well what you should do in a particular situation, but you don’t do it? And how often have things gone completely backside over teakettle as a result?
Why don’t we trust our own advice?
Most people are far more likely to listen to advice given to them by others over their own intuition, but it’s that sixth sense of ours that we really ought to listen to more often. Intuition will rarely steer you wrong, but you can almost guarantee that things will go badly if you don’t heed its warning.
“How cheerfully he seems to grin, How neatly spread his claws, And welcomes little fishes in, With gently smiling jaws!”
Politicians, sales reps, and narcissists have something in common: oily, manipulative charm, and they often use it to coerce others into doing what they want. When and if you encounter someone with a big, toothy grin and seemingly irrepressible charisma, take heed: they may be a shimmery crocodile who’ll sink their teeth into you as soon as you edge within their reach.
“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.”
This goes along with the idea that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and prove that to be so. In this era where so many people seem to post or tweet whatever is going on in their heads at any given time, there’s a great deal to be said for remaining silent. It’s even more important to do so when you’re feeling upset or angry (as long as it doesn’t turn into the silent treatment).
When we act on impulse, we often regret our actions later, especially since clarity only really comes with retrospection… and then we feel like proper idiots. Heightened emotions cloud our thoughts and judgment, so when tempers flare, it’s best to shush.
“It would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.”
To thine own self be true, and you can’t help but shine for the magical creature you are. Honestly, to hell with wearing masks and pretending to be something you’re not: you won’t feel comfortable in your own skin.
People are inevitably happier and more fulfilled when they’re following their own authentic heart’s path, so go for it! Be the piggle.
“The Jury had each formed a different view long before the indictment was read”
It’s safe to say that each and every one of us has assumed something about a person or situation. We often make snap judgments before finding out details, and those assumptions spring from biases drawn from our own experience.
It’s very easy to create an imagined narrative based on a few choice images or bits of information, but it’s not until we’ve seen the big picture that we can truly understand another person, or what they may (or may not) have experienced.
It is incredibly important to ask instead of assuming, as assumptions based on imaginings can lead to accusations and attacks… and then later, remorse for what’s been said or done.
And then it’s too late to take anything back.
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.”
We often learn a great deal in the moment, but then those epiphanies fade over time. This is generally why people who have a spiritual practice tend to revisit teachings, meditations, etc. on a regular basis: unless we remind ourselves of the lessons we’ve learned, they can fade away or get replaced by the onslaught of info we’re constantly subjected to.
“Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple. ‘I won’t!’ said Alice.”
Even when Alice was at risk of getting decapitated by that overly eager and highly-strung Queen of Hearts, she still stood up for herself. How many of us remain quiet in situations where we’re being mistreated because we don’t want to disturb the peace, or upset those around us? Yeah, forget that.
You are strong, and fierce, and worthy of respect, so if you find yourself in a position where you’re being treated badly, remember your voice, and speak up. LOUDLY, if necessary, to make yourself heard.
“Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.”
Achieving a goal or life dream may seem daunting at first, but there’s really very little that can’t be achieved with dedication and hard work. Sure, you may have to overcome obstacles, and it may take monumental effort at times, but with dedication and determination, you’d be amazed at what you can achieve.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.