In which I imagine myself doing many things I have no intention of ever doing
and begin with the moral of the story.
Moral of the Story
Imagination is good for what ails us. Our imaginations need more room to move than our feet (a guideline that benefits them both). Laughter and imagination masquerade as lightweights in the journey of life, but in their foolishness hides a wisdom that illuminates reality, rendering the unbearable a little more tolerable and the tolerable a little more pleasant.
Without further ado, the list and then the story…
An incomplete list of terrifying things
Asking for a hug from someone I don’t know very well
Raising up my hands up in church
Praying out loud with emotion
Wearing clothes that call attention to themselves
Going to one of those places where they hike in the nude
Asking for money
Asking for a favor from someone I can’t pay back
Having a messy house when people visit
Drinking too much
Six hours is tight for time. I decide to start with nude hiking and pray as I go. If it’s too crowded, I can always run headlong into the poison ivy. My real life search for hiking au natural locations is not immediately successful. I stumble onto a nude five pin bowling outing an hour away. The thought of me bowling nude is so ludicrous I begin laughing out loud but I go ahead and imagine it anyway. A hike, I realize, is child’s play. God help me! I’ll croak out at my end of the telephone as I book a lane.
I’m banking on the mitigation of terrors to see me through. Nude bowling will make asking a favor from a stranger easy. Conversely, the thought of asking a stranger for a favor while naked ought to keep me bowling with enthusiasm for at least a little while.
Excuse me, I will say – perhaps in the ladies room while changing into the garish clothing purchased for the occasion – I hate to ask, but I need a favor. I’ve left my wallet at home. Can anyone give me a ride to the church? For added bonus, I’ll see if anyone can trade me high heels for the sneakers on my feet.
God bless you and thank you, Jesus! I’ll say as they drop me off.
Arriving intentionally late to the church, I’ll progress up the aisle wearing low cut hip hugging pants and a bright floral shirt that doesn’t quite cover my midriff. Dollar store strings of plastic jewels droop from my neck. My purple purse, sans cash, is on my shoulder. Lipstick is brilliant tangerine. I totter on high heels up to the front. From the pew, I throw up hallelujahs anywhere it feels like a bad idea and wait for a hymn or any other excuse to stand. Given the ferocious affection with which my pants cling to my behind, I’m not sure they’ll notice when my hands go up in the air.
I put them up with the opening chords of the hymn that finally comes expecting just one verse. At verse three, I begin to sway my arms for variety. By verse four, I’m swaying from my hips up to the hands above my head. I’ll have ticked five off the list by then: halfway there.
I exit on the heels of the priest in order to ask for some spare change on the church steps from the maximum number of parishioners. I pull a small sign out of my purse and tape it to an umbrella: Spare Change for Unnamed Need Gratefully Accepted.
After, I’ll take off my heels and walk barefoot to a country western bar down the street. God save us all! I’ll say as I close my eyes and begin bumping bottoms with one of the guitarists on stage. If I don’t ask for a hug from a band member, I can ask for one from the first female bar tender, manager, owner or officer I see when they come to escort me away.
Then I’ll call my husband and ask him to come pick me up so I can come home for the evening to join the twelve friends I’ve invited over. I will have been away from the house for five hours. Dirty laundry on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and clutter are guaranteed. Also I will have left this note for the kids:
Brush dog in kitchen. Do not sweep. Dog hair on floor measured before $5 reward.
Ten cent reward for every fly you kill. Leave fly in kill location to claim reward.
Our friends will sit with dog hair gently tickling their feet amidst speckles of dead flies and their blood on the walls and windows. It doesn’t take a lot of wine to get to me, so it’s hard to know how much to aim for. I decide to drink until forcibly compelled by my inner voice to tell everyone there that I love them. How much. Why. Anything I’ve ever worried about that might be between us and four or five things that make them special to me. However little drinking it takes, that ought to decisively qualify as too much.
My imagination makes me laugh at myself. I am a bit proud to have proved it vaguely possible to fit so many ghastly things into six hours though. Strangely, despite not having done a single thing from my list of horrors, I don’t feel intimidated by Liz Hoath or Spandy Andy anymore. I decide that if I feel like doing something else as bold as my purple purse, I’ll do it. If I don’t, I won’t.
A silly bit of nonsense above perhaps, but imagining it opened my eyes to something I couldn’t see before: it’s okay not to go looking for mountains to climb.
A simple thought that is true, and for me, a little bit beautiful.
My idea of what a robot should look like.
I was obligated to attend a Lego Robotics tournament all day on Saturday. I confess my viewing of the practice runs for the teams of Boy two and Girl one left me less than enthusiastic. Someone had to explain to me when the Lego robot finished maneuvering whether things went well or not. Since I didn’t get it, I assumed the kids didn’t either.
My fantasies for freezing rain or a last minute illness didn’t materialize, but the kids’ excitement was catching. By the time we got there, it seemed like a nice day. Their eagerness (and my plans to leave them and only watch for the afternoon) had unScrooged me.
To my surprise, the afternoon I thought would be long, proceeded to unfold as a series of revelations to my traditionally low tech self.
Revelation #1: The place was teaming with grade 4 – 8 kids (including mine) who understood most of what was happening.
Revelation #2: The pedigree of judges and referees giving their time to the event was nothing to sneeze at. People with all kinds of engineering degrees, employed in some of the most prestigious companies in Canada, were there convinced that my kids (and a few others) were the future of Canada’s ability to innovate.
Revelation #3: Nobody there was interested in grooming cookie cutter kids. (One of my biggest frustrations with education today is that inadvertently or not, much of it is designed to spit out kids who don’t think, risk or try new things.) First Lego League (not something I was previously familiar with) is out to reward risk taking, innovation, teamwork . . .
Here’s the list of the core values that teams were marked and rewarded for understanding and exemplifying:
*We are a team.
*We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
*We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
*We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
*What we discover is more important than what we win.
*We share our experiences with others.
*We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
*We have FUN!
(For more on First Lego League, see http://www.firstlegoleague.org/mission/corevalues#sthash.Z7mZlLR4.dpuf)
Revelation # 4: Waiting for the judging results, they cranked up the music and invited the kids to dance. Seventy five or so geeky kids spontaneously dancing (or forming trains with kids they don’t know) to Cotton Eyed Joe and YMCA is a pretty refreshing thing to watch.
Revelation #5: The world is a big place. Some really good things are happening. I stopped short of a one man standing ovation when one of the extremely accomplished speakers commiserated with the kids about failing, starting over, and not understanding why something wasn’t working. How great is that? When a successful adult talks shop with ten year old’s like they’re colleagues in the big world of innovation and design? When someone teaches by example that failed attempts are merely steps on the road to discovery?
Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As I write, the children are upstairs dancing. Three of them. No reason. Out of the blue, one said, “I’m going to my room to dance. You guys want to come?” I think our musicals kick off on Friday night has us feeling artsy. “Sound of Music,” was a huge hit. (Juvenile search for free, legal music to download has begun.) The singing/no speaking dinner was grand. We’ll do it again and give it time to develop. One was too shy. The others had a grand time. Five year old quite enjoyed her attempts at vibrato. A highly recommended activity, I say.
Maybe it’s a small thing to hear my child look up from reading a book and announce a desire to dance. It makes me happy. My own love of dance is hampered by the requirement to move my body without a plan. I remember going to a concert once. Nothing fashionable, just a marching band on a lawn. I loved it and I wanted to clap with the music. Most everyone else was. I was inside the sounds of trumpets and flutes, cymbals and drums, I wanted to be part of the song.
I don’t remember if I was eleven, twelve, thirteen . . . but I couldn’t do it. I pictured myself picking my hands up off my chair and putting them together, but I was too afraid to try. Not sure how to start. Worried that everyone else knew how to clap in time, but I might not.
Since that day, I have learned to clap to music when I want to. For a time, I could mostly line dance (thanks to help from anyone who would go over the simplest things with me just one more time). Line dancing had the beauty of set moves to follow, but that skill has gone the way of things.
My joyful dancing, the kind without a plan, has been with my children. I danced with them as babies when we were alone. Later my children began asking me to dance. About kids and dancing, I hold to the following to get me through the occasional requests to participate:
1. It matters more that they learn the freedom and joy of dance, than it matters that beyond the confines of my imagination and the walls of our home, I have known neither.
2. Along with remembering me taller and wiser than I am, their memories of whatever odd moves I may try to incorporate into my dancing have the potential to undergo similar distortions if I can just keep smiling.
The marvel of it grows in me. My children are upstairs dancing. For fun. Maybe I was faking it to get here, but my children love to dance. Watching them, I see the shadow of small miracles. Of these I can only say thank you. Bow softly. Wonder at such good gifts.
Me thinking about learning a little more about the technical aspects of blogging
Me when I found out that one of my favorite living writers read one of my blogs. (Yeah, I had to throw on a dress and dance.)