I'm Late - I'm Late By Alison Bruce

John Tenniel Illustration
Or, What I Learned From Alice

It was an hour to tea time and I just realized that I hadn't written my Monday post.

"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"
- White Rabbit

How many times have I fallen down the rabbit hole because  I was running late. And here I am again, because honestly... and why would I lie to YOU... so much of what I've learned in life, I learned first between the pages of Lewis Carroll's classic book.

My father used to read me Alice in Wonderland at about the age most children are being read picture books. It's a wonder I understood any of it but, when the Disney animated movie came out, my first reaction was, "That's not how the story goes."

Arthur Rackham Illustration
“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

Heraclitis said it much earlier: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” But I heard it from Alice first.

There's no point beating myself up about past mistakes because I'm not that person anymore. There should be a Statute of Limitations for personal (and non-criminal) blunders depending on the severity.

For instance, there are some decisions I'll have to live with, no matter how long ago they were made. Like murder, I can't go back and undo motherhood. Unlike murder, I have no desire to. On the other hand, me bribing my child to behave when I got too tired to do otherwise, shouldn't be held over my head forever... as long as I'm not a habitual offender.

Fan Art
“If you don't know where you are going any road can take you there”
- The Cheshire Cat

Much to my family's chagrin, I am a big fan of the scenic route. I blame the Cheshire Cat and my father... and possibly Robert Frost (notorious for taking the Road Less Traveled). After all, what better reason to be late than getting lost on the way?

If I hadn't got fed up with the traffic on the freeway, we might never have discovered the world's largest toonie in Campbellford, Ontario. If I hadn't transposed the numbers on a requisite course for my Classic minor, I wouldn't have taken Ethics and switched to a Philosophy double major (with History). As my Grade 13 history teacher once pointed out, I didn't really have the mindset for a historian. (Of course, I didn't really appreciate the comment at the time.

Peter Sellers as the King of Hearts
“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
The King of Hearts

I bet there are more than a few of my high school teachers who wish I had absorbed this lesson earlier in life. I didn't really get it until I was at university. It was the stopping part I had trouble with. I just went on and on and on...

This is a good lesson for any writer.

David Levine Illustration of Lewis Carroll
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
Lewis Carroll

This last quote is a bit of a cheat because the author said it, not one of his characters. However, as an author I entirely sympathize with this sentiment.

Authors and comics have this in common: we both learn to deal with the slings and arrows of reality by coming at it from another direction. Whether we use comedy, fiction or all of the above, imagination is the key. We ask ourselves what if I took this further or escaped it completely? What if? Then we jump down the rabbit hole and the game is on.

MacMillan's early editions

It's the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and I honestly didn't know it until I finished this post. Obviously my link with Alice is strong for such a coincidence to occur.


  1. Bravo, Alison. Inspiration is the KEY, and it comes in all forms: what we read, what we see, even what tries to knock us down, picks us up. As a fellow writer, I'm ready to jump down the rabbit hole too!

    1. Thank you! Thank you for giving me a kick and reminding me I was late too. :D

  2. Great quotes, Alice. I mean, Alison. I loved Alice in Wonderland too and Alice Through the Looking Glass, the books that is. Though later on, when I read that Lewis Carroll (or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was on drugs as he wrote it, that explained a lot. This tidbit turned out be untrue, or at least unlikely, so I am back to admiring him for writing "literary nonsense". I wouldn't mind writing anything literary, though I'm not very good at nonsense. Except for this blog comment. I love anything you write, Alison!

    1. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a mathematician and logician. I had to take logic to complete my philosophy major. Compared to academic logic, Wonderland makes complete sense. ;)

      Thanks for the kind words Cathy.


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