One day, while talking to some friends about how scary it can be for a kid to go down into the “dark, scary” basement, I remembered a story that has been shared in the King family for years.
This event took place when I was about 5 yrs old, and my sister Margie was close to 7 yrs old. Margie and I shared a bedroom, and one morning I woke up very excited by the fact that I knew there was a herd of horses in the “basenut”. I woke up Margie, and told her to come down to the “basenut” with me, and pick out her horse. I assured her there were plenty of them to go around, but I had put dibs on the Palomino pony. Margie was reluctant to get out of bed at first, not being a morning person, but I was persuasive, and told her to hurry up.
On the way down from our upstairs bedroom, Margie told me to quit rushing her, and enlightened me with the wisdom of her 7 years that the horses were not in the “basenut”, they were in the “basin”. I told her she was a dope, and that of course they were in the “basenut”. We argued with each other all the way down the stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen, where Mom and Dad were having breakfast. They looked in amazement at the two of us who were going at it hammer and tongs, and wondered aloud what all the fuss was about. Margie told them she was correcting my DUMB pronunciation of the word “basin”. Mom and Dad then informed us we were both wrong – the word was basement!
Margie and I were shocked by this pronouncement, but were not deterred from our task. Even though we both hated to go into the basement, we set our faces like flint and marched toward the basement door.
The basement was the place of primal fears. The door stuck at the base and was hard to get open and the stairs were very steep. It was dark and shadowy down there. It was the home of spiders, mice and the big, dark coal bin. We harbored a terrifying question: If you ran into the boogey man in the basement and screamed for help, would anyone hear you? No one knew. Yet we went toward the basement undaunted, ready to face that dark, scary region in order to claim our horses. We flung open the basement door, and went down the dark, steep stairs, turning on the one overhead light bulb as we went. When the light came on, and we gazed into the netherworld of our fears, we saw with a shock that there were no horses – not a one! We were utterly amazed. We went all the way through the large basement, which had a dirt floor, and several storage areas covered with swags of spider webs. We were careful as we walked through the low ceilinged rooms because we knew this space was a haven for daddy-longlegs spiders, or, maybe something even worse was hiding somewhere. Still, our dream of having a horse to call our own kept us searching. Eventually we had to admit defeat, and Margie was thoroughly indignant that I would involve her in such a DUMB activity. I felt embarrassed and completely dejected. Ah life.
Over the years, this story about Margie and me believing there were horses in the basement, and arguing over which word was correct, ‘basenut’ or ‘basin’, has been the source of a lot of family laughs. But perhaps we have overlooked something here, an underlying theme in the story that has been present all this time, but has been hiding in the basenut, or basin, if you prefer. When we walked down from our bedroom, Margie and I were not arguing about whether we should go down into the scary, awful basement. Why? We had completely skipped over that very big issue and got right into nitpicking about how to pronounce words correctly. Why? I think it was because a dream had overcome our fears. A dream had propelled us to go down into the dark, scary basement by ourselves. Dreams are amazingly powerful and can motivate us to walk into the fearful, scary places of life, and see what is there for the taking. And even if we don’t find that treasure which we first saw in our dream, say a Palomino pony, for instance, maybe we still have found something quite wonderful – the courage to follow a dream.