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Posts Tagged ‘learning at any age’

I have come to believe that giving and receiving are really the same. Giving and receiving—not giving and taking. (Joyce Grenfell)

“Do pebbles grow into rocks?” my young step-grandson asks as he gathers odd-shaped stones and places them inside a cardboard treasure box. The box rides inside a red wagon.

I smile and tell him rocks are more likely to break into pebbles. I smile, but don’t laugh. His innocence warms me. He finds a tiny lock on the side of the road and adds it to his collection. Then, he puts it inside his pocket, to take home.

For him, all of life is a collection of serendipitous learning experiences. The tracks left by a bulldozer, a dusty trail made by the thin wheels of the collapsible, fabric wagon. The dusty wheels create mud after the wheels travel through a deep puddle.

The thought strikes me that rocks and keys may not be the unique metaphors I imagined them to be in my series, The Star League Chronicles. Black rocks act as weapons for the Malefics, the evil League. Chase Powers, the main character, operates an ancient, rusty, magical key. Sometimes, the key knows more than he does.

Sometimes play teaches me. And I haven’t been a child in a long time. My teacher-key contains no magic. Often its key is no more than a realization, a prod to notice a beauty I hadn’t noticed because I’d been stuck inside ubiquitous bad news forecasts.

This little boy trusts me. A breeze cuts through the afternoon heat. I am at peace despite that fact that I have an approaching deadline—and more words to write and edit than I want to think about. Right now, I could be pecking away at the non-magical keyboard-keys (pun semi-intended.) With the hope of creating magical scenes.

Instead, I follow a red wagon into a child’s imagination and allow my love for this boy to expand.

Work challenges will continue tonight…and tomorrow…weeks after. Until the story fits into a whole.

For now, I give and receive experience. And hope to remember this beautiful day in the middle of July.

 

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The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. (J.M. Barrie, novelist and playwright)

Random, dead, moss-covered wood. I’ve felt a kinship with it at times. Yet, the fallen logs create artistic patterns. Hollow centers offer homes for wildlife.

My husband and I walked under a lacy shade of branches. They protected the ground from the late-May heat. The pattern of dead and alive seemed to ramble, aimless. Nevertheless, there was a wholeness to the scene.

Recently, my husband and I attended an event. I am intentionally vague about whether the event was a picnic, graduation, family reunion, or none of the above. The setting was accidental; the story reveals a story within a story, the one that occurred instead of the one planned.

One of the guests passed out after a possible seizure. An individual honored at that moment ran to her defense. She saw the need for a 911 call. Two of the attendees were nurses and two were doctors. They assisted the fallen person more thoroughly than the paramedics did.

After the ill guest was taken to the hospital, any separated groups bonded. A different story developed based upon mutual care and love. We met as friends, not strangers.

I hoped to hold onto that intimate feeling forever. Then I totaled my car the same day my husband and I returned home. A tree won when the accelerator stuck…or I missed the brake…or fate decided my time with Little Beige should end. I don’t know what happened. This incident was the first in my years behind the wheel. It doesn’t matter how the accident happened. My 2005 Toyota will soon become junkyard fodder.

Like the dead branches my car has a history. Soon to be buried. I am okay, relatively anyway. So is my husband. We were not physically injured.

Neighbors arrived immediately. With offers to help. With support. With the difference between rotting in the moment and survival.

The story changed. I am not the only character in my tale. Nor, am I the only heroine. And that is what makes the difference. Sometimes, simple actions may have saved someone more than anyone will ever know.

Thanks to all who take that extra step forward.

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Luke and ThomasGrandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. Mary H. Waldrip

Imagination, it gets soaked with the ugliness of world events and can be destroyed. I need space in between each hit from hate. Meditation, exercise, and play help both my physical and mental state.

My youngest granddaughter is here today to bring welcome sunshine. She names a toy koala, Thomas and a toy cow, Luke. (Since the doll-version is gender-neutral, the name doesn’t really matter in fantasy. Ella was Daddy in our last game.) The boundaries of reality expand in play.

“How high can you jump, Luke?” I ask as Thomas.

Apparently, the surface of my bed has lost gravity. Or fuzzy, button-eyed cows have super powers.

Thomas leaps and lands on a blue blanket—a cave, with a bear inside. Time to explore.

Danger means excitement, never malice. The bear growls, yet never attacks. The toys fall. Their injuries are healed with imaginary bandages. Within seconds.

And so am I…

 

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Hahvey

Unconditional love is hard to compete with. (Abbi Glines)              

Greetings! My name is Hahvey, (Hah-VAY) official household greeter, master purr machine, and symbol for unconditional love.

Okay, I may slip in your way as you walk up the stairs. However, certain hazards occur when cats lead. Relax and love me back. I’m leading the way to your room for the night. Extra warmth provided as needed by orange fur. Your sister, my wonderful keeper-of-the-can-opener? Well, you already know how devoted she is.

You left your purse at the annual party, the fest with all the beautiful songs. The purse contained prized possessions, like your phone, and your sister turned around and drove through the ice and snow. A good four inches of it. Temperatures my beautiful fur won’t touch. Not when I could freeze my nose, tail, or valuable parts in between.

You appear puzzled. Unfortunately, feline and human languages don’t align perfectly. I have inflections in my meow; my body language is easy to read. You need words from a dictionary thicker than my litter box to communicate. You are busy with many things. Recognize the line?

Unwind. Spend some quality time with your only sister. Okay? My feline buddy, Oui, and I will keep your entertained. You know we can do it. You’ve seen pictures of our antics.

By the way, you already know Oui means yes in French. He’s a positive addition to our group of living, loving creatures here. Did you know Hahvey is a diminutive form of a Hebrew word, Ahavah? Ahavah means love. No surprise, huh?

Oh, by the way, one more scratch. Behind the left ear this time. Yeah, you caught my drift.

Happy New Year, Ahavah-style.

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both books (2)_LI

I’m growing older, but not up. (Jimmy Buffett)

The tension in my neck tells me I am not in synch with the world as it is. Mass natural disasters are difficult enough to understand; mass hatred is another. I don’t need to delineate any of it. The blind can hear about it, and the deaf can read closed-caption. The unaffected remain in a narrow, wire-thin margin.

Pain begins before the first commercial on any news channel. Gentle heat helps my muscles. Distraction, blended with love, helps my spirit.

My husband and I take Dakota to afternoon kindergarten on Thursdays. Dakota asks me to sit in the back seat with him. We discuss the six-year-old boy world and his unique observations along the familiar route.

This young man notices details: The recycling truck has two steering wheels and two sets of brakes… He discerns how a toy train track fits together. His mechanical expertise will probably surpass mine before he reaches third grade!

During a rare pause Dakota notices the back cover of my second book, Stinky Rotten Threats. It is on the back seat between us.

“Isn’t that your picture? Why is it there?”

I smile. When I am with this young man, my intention is to focus on him. My successes, failures, and mundane trips to the doctor or post office don’t come up. He probably assumes I don’t pretend to pilot a plane without knowing what an instrument panel is. However, other than stocking the refrigerator with his favorite cheese and hot sauce, he wouldn’t know what else fills my day.

“This is what I do, buddy. I write. This is my second book.” (The first was The Curse Under the Freckles.)

“Wow,” he says flipping through the pages without looking at them. “It must have taken you more than an hour and a half.”

Dakota’s notion of numbers and time hasn’t developed yet. I realize I want world change overnight, in my spirit, even if my head knows a sudden transformation is as impossible as writing a middle-grade fantasy adventure in an hour and a half. The Star League Chronicles fights evil—not with fists and swords, but with truth. Even in make-believe, a story takes more than one page for goodness to win.

“Two years,” I answer. “It took me two years.”

He doesn’t say anything, but I suspect he thinks I must be mighty slow.

I don’t mind. Slow is the general idea. My neck thanks me. Growing up all the way isn’t recommended anyway.

 

 

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Sometimes the best wisdom and advice comes through the simple purity of a child. They don’t see the world as complicated as adults do. (Nishan Panwar)

Dakota and I set up a ramp for his cars in the living room. Since the action tends to include a lot of collision and upside-down accidents, an on-site mechanic becomes necessary. I have the six-year old man for the job.

While his work is magically quick, he doesn’t have a concept of money yet. His bill for removing a nail in my vehicle’s tire is $300. True, the bill includes a heart and secret code, DN. Dependable NASCAR grease monkey? I don’t ask. The F and heart placed together definitely don’t require mentioning. Besides, Dakota accepts invisible cash.

Later, we take turns as airplane pilot. The plane is the couch. Take-off begins in recliner mode. Believable or not, I’ll take it.

“How far are we going this trip, captain?” I ask.

“Twenty miles,” he answers. “And it will take twenty hours.”

“Okay,” I reply, then call back to our ever-changing number of passengers to buckle their seatbelts. My belly laugh remains inside, saved for later. For now, levity heals any lingering abdominal pain.

“I love you, little buddy,” I finally get a chance to say. He doesn’t need to answer back. His grin is enough response. I’ll go back to grownup mode in a few hours—with just a little bit more energy to face the ugly places.

 

 

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I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”   (Kurt Vonnegut)

No point putting my socks back on—my feet are covered with sand—from my son’s backyard sandbox. Yes, this senior citizen has been playing with dump trucks and plastic buckets. I follow the lead of my favorite kindergartner, Dakota.

He asks about what kind of work both my husband and I have done, and what I do now.

I state as simply as possible the jobs we had in young-person language. “I write books now.”

“Sounds boring.” He rams a motorcycle over a sand ramp. A wheel falls off. He grins as he clicks it back on.

I suppose when an individual’s written vocabulary is limited to one and two-syllable words, it could be. My granddaughter Ella has been reading since she was four. Different interests.

But, I don’t say anything. I let his opinion stand and heap a plastic shovel of packed sand into the next project, a castle. The building lasts almost three seconds before Dakota smashes it and turns it into something else. Another truck obstacle.

At age six, the pretend world is always in progress.

Next, he introduces me to a new Wii game. I have no aptitude for sports in the tangible world. On the flat screen, my lack reaches a new low.

“Well, I guess you win again,” I say.

We are ready to go outside for more activity, and he takes my hand. A gentle gesture. Dakota is considerate. I mentioned once today as I swung an invisible baseball bat, that I was thirsty and he ran to get me water, with ice. He also wanted to wash dishes, but left the big knife for me. A smart decision.

By tomorrow, my at-home to-do list will be too long to fit on the side of a mile-long wall. Those tasks will wait. Today I spend time with a young gentleman who doesn’t care about what I can or what I can’t do. He knows I care a lot about him, and he cares a lot about me. We are family, and that is all that matters.

You are right, Mr. Vonnegut. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

(photo-shopped public domain photo)

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