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Dear Pinocchio,

I was seven years old when I read your Adventures for the first time. I can’t tell you how much I liked them and how many times I have reread them since. The fact is that, in you, I recognized myself as a boy, and in your surroundings I saw my own.

How many times you dashed through the woods, crossed the fields, ran to the beach, along the highroads! And with you ran the Cat and the Fox, the poodle Medoro, the children of the battle of the books. They seemed my dashes, my playmates, the roads and the fields of my village.

You went to see the carnival wagons when they came into the square; so did I. You balked, pursed your lips, stuck your head under the covers rather than drink the glass of bitter medicine; I did also. The slice of bread buttered on both sides; the candy with a liqueur inside; the “little ball of sugar,” and, on certain occasions, even an egg, even a pear, even the pear’s peelings, represented a radiant “summit” for you, greedy and always hungry: the same was true of me.

[…]

You will experience it: a difficult age, both for you and for your educators. No longer a child, you will avoid, in fact, the company, the books, the games of the little ones; not yet a man, you will feel misunderstood and virtually rejected by adults.

You will feel, overpoweringly, the need to affirm your ego. On the one hand, you will be in disagreement with your family and school environment; on the other, you will plunge headlong into the solidarity of a “gang.” On the one hand, you insist on independence from the family; on the other, you hunger and thirst to be “accepted” by those your age, to be dependent on them.

How frightening to be different from the others! Where the gang goes, there you want to go. Where the gang stops, there you want to stop. The jokes, the language the hobbies of the others become yours. What they wear, you wear. One month, all the boys are wearing T-shirts and blue jeans; the next month all have leather jackets, colored slacks, white laces for black shoes. In certain things, nonconformist; in other things, unawares, one hundred-percent conformists.

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Ven. Pope John Paul I

from Illustrissimi: The Letters Of Pope John Paul I (Albino Luciani)

(Amazon page)


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