Unearthing Our Forgotten Language: A Journey Back to Childhood Passions

Allan Johnson, PhD
9 min readJan 4, 2024
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

We’re all in search of a language that we naturally speak, the language of our youthful interests and obsessions. Our early childhood obsessions give us an early indication of the things we care about most, but as we grow up, we tend to detach ourselves from these early interests and lose sight of what was once really important to us. Often it’s these childhood interests that point us in the direction of how we want to see the world and how we want the world to speak to us. These formative passions, which point like compass needles to our genuine concerns and authentic desires, are the key to understanding what is truly important to us. In these early years, we connect to the world by establishing an initial dialogue with the aspects that capture our imagination and awaken our genuine curiosity.

Once, many years ago, at a dinner with some distant friends I didn’t know very well, the question of what ‘good poetry’ was came up. ‘Poetry doesn’t really speak to me,’ I confessed ashamedly at the table. Although literature was then, as now, one of my greatest passions, I didn’t feel as connected to poetry as I did to fiction and drama, and I was embarrassed to admit this at the table. One of my dinner neighbours looked at me to gauge my reaction. ‘That’s a very poetic way of putting it,’ she replied dryly, with a touch of humour in her eyes.

In the years that followed, I began working on my PhD on twentieth-century English literature, and during this time the initial love of literature I had as a child began to fade. During my PhD, literature became something that couldn’t be enjoyed naturally, and the idea of reading for pleasure became an alien concept. Literature outside my narrowly defined area of interest became increasingly distant and unremarkable. The pages of novels were no longer turned with the same sense of wonder and anticipation; instead, each word seemed to carry the weight of analysis, critical scrutiny and the relentless pursuit of scholarly precision. The works that had once held my imagination were now scrutinised through the lens of theory and methodology, often overshadowing the fascination and magic that had originally drawn me to it.

The question of my appreciation of poetry (or lack thereof) came up again a few years later during an…

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Allan Johnson, PhD

Integrative Coach | Mindfulness Teacher | Academic | Books with Palgrave and Bloomsbury