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Valery Satterwhite : Pippi Longstocking — An Enormous Creative Being

The Tao of Pippi Longstocking — An Enormous Creative Being

By Valery Satterwhite

Some of the most profound life affirming philosophy can be found in the books we read as children. "Pippi Longstocking" by Astrid Lindgren was, and still is, one of my favorites. What I didn't know as a child was that this book was very much a story of Lindgren's personal journey from a life lived small, fearful, stubborn and filled with lack of confidence in herself and her ability as a writer and creative being. Even though her parents gave much freedom to their children, Astrid Lindgren lived part of her life through her self-suppressed, conditioned, Inner Critic spirit.

"Well you should know what
you have to do — you can feel
the right thing to do in your heart."

— Pippi Longstocking

As a natural and spirited contrarian, Lindgren's stories appealed to the little anarchist living inside every small child, Lindgren broke the tradition of characters behaving well and doing their best to live up to their parents' expectations. She sparked hope and inspiration in those who were being shaped by the well-meaning 'should-ers' — parents, teachers and other influencers young and old.

"If I have managed to brighten up
one single miserable childhood
then I'm satisfied."

— Astrid Lindgren

Her most well-known character, Pippi Longstocking, had no mother and no father, and "that was of course very nice because there was no one to tell her to go bed just when she was having the most fun, and no one who could make her take cod liver oil when she much preferred caramel candy."

It wasn't until Lindgren was bedridden with a badly twisted ankle that she decided to put the stories on paper and give them to her daughter, Karin, who made up the name Pippi. In full it is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim's Daughter Longstocking. Pippi is a red-headed athletic orphan. She is so strong that she can lift horses. Pippi is also very untidy, wears mismatching stockings, and fiercely protects her freedom. Pippi lost her mother at an early age. Her father, a sea captain, disappeared in a storm. Pippi believes that he is a South Sea cannibal king.

To Pippi, anything and everything is possible. Her days are filled with wild and abundant creation of her rich delicious life experiences. She brought into her reality all that she could imagine. And then stretched to make her vision even bigger!

Lindgren sent her first "Pippi Longstocking" manuscript to a publisher, who turned it down. Like Pippi, Lindgren remained true to her calling. Unphased by the rejection, Lindgren rediscovered her gift and the joy of writing.

"I don't 'mean' anything by my writing.
I just write for the child in myself."
— Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren was renowned both for her support for children's and animal rights, and for her opposition to corporal punishment. In 1993, she received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize). Her son Lars 'Lasse' Lindgren once said about his mother: "She wasn't the kind of mother who would sit quiet on a park-bench, watching her children play. She wanted to play herself and I suspect she found it as much fun as I did!" Astrid Anna Emilia Ericsson died peacefully in her home after a brief illness on January 28, 2002 at the age of 94.

"I don't mind dying, I'll gladly do that,
but not right now, I need to clean
the house first."
— Astrid Lindgren

© 2009 Valery Satterwhite. All Rights Reserved.

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6/18/09