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Boy's Life Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon
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“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“After years of having a dog, you know him. You know the meaning of his snuffs and grunts and barks. Every twitch of the ears is a question or statement, every wag of the tail is an exclamation.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
tags: dogs
“The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It's not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don't know its happening until one day you feel you've lost something but you're not sure what it is. It's like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you 'sir'. It just happens.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who's got magic in them after they're no longer a child.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“They say that somewhere in Africa the elephants have a secret grave where they go to lie down, unburden their wrinkled gray bodies, and soar away, light spirits at the end.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“If you were my girlfriend I would give you a hundred lightning bugs in a green glass jar, so you could always see your way. I would give you a meadow full of wildflowers, where no two blooms would ever be alike. I would give you my bicycle, with its golden eye to protect you. I would write a story for you, and make you a princess who lived in a white marble castle. If you would only like me, I would give you magic. If you would only like me.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“No one ever grows up. They may look grown-up, but it's just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts." Mrs. Neville”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“I understood then what courage is all about. It is loving someone else more than you love yourself.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“I had always wondered what Reverend Lovoy meant when he talked about "grace." I understood it now. It was being able to give up something that it broke your heart to lose, and be happy about it.”
Robert McCammon (Author), Boy's Life
“I couldn't picture heaven. How could a place be any good at all if it didn't have the things there you enjoyed doing? If there were no comic books, no monster movies, no bikes, and no country roads to ride them on? No swimming pools, no ice cream, no summer, or barbecue on the Fourth of July? No thunderstorms, and front porches on which to sit and watch them coming? Heaven sounded to me like a library that only held books about one certain subject, yet you had to spend eternity and eternity and eternity reading them. What was heaven without typewriter paper and a magic box?”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“I'd like to be everybody in the world' I said. 'I'd like to live a million times.'
'Well'--and here my father gave one of his sagely nods--'that would be a fine piece of magic, wouldn't it?”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“Here is my room, in the yellow lamplight and the space heater rumbling: Indian rug red as Cochise's blood, a desk with seven mystic drawers, a chair covered in material as velvety blue-black as Batman's cape, an aquarium holding tiny fish so pale you could see their hearts beat, the aforementioned dresser covered with decals from Revell model airplane kits, a bed with a quilt sewn by a relative of Jefferson Davis's, a closet, and the shelves, oh, yes, the shelves. The troves of treasure. On those shelves are stacks of me: hundreds of comic books- Justice League, Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, the Spirit, Blackhawk, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, Aquaman, and the Fantastic Four... The shelves go on for miles and miles. My collection of marbles gleams in a mason jar. My dried cicada waits to sing again in the summer. My Duncan yo-yo that whistles except the string is broken and Dad's got to fix it.”
Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
“There is something about nature out of control that touches a primal terror. We are used to believing that we’re the masters of our domain, and that God has given us this earth to rule over. We need this illusion like a good night-light. The truth is more fearsome: we are as frail as young trees in tornadoes, and our beloved homes are one flood away from driftwood. We plant our roots in trembling earth, we live where mountains rose and fell and prehistoric seas burned away in mist. We and the towns we have built are not permanent; the earth itself is a passing train. When you stand in muddy water that is rising toward your waist and you hear people shouting against the darkness and see their figures struggling to hold back the currents that will not be denied, you realize the truth of it: we will not win, but we cannot give up.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“My father could throw up a fistful of dice to make a decision, but my mother had an agony for every hour. I guess they balanced, as two people who love each other should.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“It was a feeling in the crisp twilight air; it was a hush across the hills. The ghosts were gathering themselves, building up their strength to wander the fields of October and speak to those who would listen.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“Death cannot be known. It cannot be befriended. If Death were a boy, he would be a lonely figure, standing at the playground’s edge while the air rippled with other children’s laughter. If Death were a boy, he would walk alone. He would speak in a whisper and his eyes would be haunted by knowledge no human can bear.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“It seemed to me at an early age that all human communication — whether it’s TV, movies, or books — begins with somebody wanting to tell a story. That need to tell, to plug into a universal socket, is probably one of our grandest desires. And the need to hear stories, to live lives other than our own for even the briefest moment, is the key to the magic that was born in our bones. The”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“They may look grown-up,” she continued, “but it’s a disguise. It’s just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts. They still would like to jump and play, but that heavy clay won’t let them. They’d like to shake off every chain the world’s put on them, take off their watches and neckties and Sunday shoes and return naked to the swimming hole, if just for one day. They’d like to feel free, and know that there’s a momma and daddy at home who’ll take care of things and love them no matter what. Even behind the face of the meanest man in the world is a scared little boy trying to wedge himself into a corner where he can’t be hurt.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“When you look at something, don’t just look. See it. Really, really see it. See it so when you write it down, somebody else can see it, too.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“Seems to me a writer gets to hold a lot of keys,” she said. “Gets to visit a lot of worlds and live in a lot of skins. Seems to me a writer has a chance to live forever, if he’s good and if he’s lucky.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“Friends. They really know how to knock you off your pedestal, don’t they?”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Hold on to being a boy as long as you can, because once you lose that magic, you’re always begging to find it again.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“But life is just as much pain and mess as it is joy and order. Probably a lot more mess than order, too.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who’s got magic in them after they’re no longer a child.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“I realized all prisons were not buildings of gray rock bordered by guard towers and barbed wire. Some prisons were houses whose closed blinds let no sunlight enter. Some prisons were cages of fragile bones, and some prisons had bars of red polka dots. In fact, you could never tell what might be a prison until you’d had a glimpse of what was seized and bound inside.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“No doubt about it, summer was on the wane. The mornings seemed a shade cooler. The nights were hungry, and ate more daylight.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“In later years I would think that no woman’s lips had ever been as red as that bike. No low-slung foreign sports car with wire wheels and purring engine would ever look as powerful or as capable as that bike. No chrome would ever gleam with such purity, like the silver moon on a summer’s night.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
“It’s not right,” he said, “to hate somethin’ just for bein’ alive.”
Robert McCammon, Boy's Life

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