Around this time, at the age of thirteen, I had a theory. I had just finished reading John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy and was heavily influenced by it. The trilogy is a coming-of-age story couched as the tale of a rebellion. One of the novels, The White Mountains is, in some ways, about the relationship of children to adults. It presents the age-old story of machines controlling humans. In this tome, the machines are using a sort of surgical mind-control process, called the Capping. I had a strong belief that this Capping was actually happening in a natural way to most of us who were going through puberty.
I witnessed the Capping, as my friends began to act differently. It wasn’t only their voices that were changing, but the things they were talking about. Whereas imagination ruled interpersonal conversations throughout my childhood, things of a more mature nature seemed to take over around my adolescent period. I felt that someone or something was conducting a hostile takeover of my imagination.
It was at this same time when I wrote a letter to myself about these feelings. The letter was to be read at a later date, somewhere well past the Capping period. I don’t know where that letter is now, or if it even still exists (maybe in some box that my parents have stored away) I wish I knew where it was, as I still agree with much of its position. I wonder how receptive I would be to a letter going the other way, writing to myself as a youngster from adulthood. I doubt I would have been so accepting of the philosophies presented within.
The point that I agree with in that letter is that the process of puberty does, in fact, bring about a loss in imagination. While going through it, we are expected to act less like children, full of wild and often-times uncontrolled emotions, and more like adults, stoic and sober, in our demeanor. It was a difficult time for me, as there were things I wanted to share with others, but I couldn’t out of the fear of being ridiculed. This phobia of being embarrassed by others prohibited me from continuing one of the most enjoyable activities I had as a child – writing.
At that time, I wrote a piece that will always be remembered by me as something wonderful. It was a novelette, co-written by my good friend Korman King. The story involved a group of children and an adult assassin. Korman wrote the parts about the children and I took on the assassin’s dealings.
Korman had a vivid imagination, quite superior to my own. He had great talent as a wordsmith and constructed intricate twists in his storylines. Mostly, we wrote our passages independent from one another. We only collaborated on parts where the children and assassin came together. I remember that we envisioned it as becoming a movie someday, an action movie with heartfelt warmth, sort of like The Terminator meets Lassie. Sadly, the manuscript disappeared shortly after it was written and both Korman and I gave up writing altogether.