Agatha Christie was, and is, an extremely successful writer. Few would argue that she had a certain amount of insight into the behaviour of humanity, even if it was the behaviour of a particular class of people.
I was surprised to come across the following passage in her autobiography:
Point of view. The point of view of a child. We all knew it once but we’ve travelled so far away from it that it’s difficult to get back there again. I remember seeing my own grandson Mathew when he must have been, I suppose, about two and a half. He did not know I was there. I was watching him from the top of the stairs. He walked very carefully down the stairs. He was muttering to himself, saying: ‘This is Mathew going down stairs. This is Mathew. Mathew is going down stairs. This is Mathew going down stairs.’
I wonder if we all start life thinking of ourselves, as soon as we can think of ourselves at all, as a separate person, as it were, from the one observing. Did I say to myself once, ‘This is Agatha in her party sash going down to the dining-room.’ It is as though the body in which we have found our spirit lodged is at first strange to us. An entity, we know its name, we are on terms with it, but are not as yet identified fully with it. We are Agatha going for a walk, Mathew going down stairs. We see ourselves rather than _feel_ ourselves.
And then one day the next stage of life happens. Suddenly it is no longer ‘This is Mathew going down stairs.’ Suddenly it has become _I_ am going down stairs. The achievement of ‘I’ is the first step in the progress of a personal life.
(Christie, Agatha; An Autobiography, Collins, 1977, isbn 0-00-0-216012-9 p65 )
I am surprised, because of the insight I think it shows. I won’t attempt to relate it to any of the theories of child development or the human psyche, I think that would be to miss the point. Christie says:
- “The achievement of ‘I’ is the first step in the progress of a personal life.”
and I think she has a point.
I wonder if the next steps are:
- “Becoming aware of ‘I’ and assessing its behaviour and it’s effect on others”
- “Taking conscious steps to influence how ‘I’ think and behave.”
It’s amazing where one can find insights! Maybe regaining the “child” point of view has even more point than I thought?