For those of you who have emailed me your intentions to join in on the Holiday mixmania! - I haven't forgotten you - just been, um, preoccupied. The following post (and previous posts) should explain why I've been so distant.
It's not that my head has not been with this (if you made any sense of my last post, pass what you're smoking on to me) but that I've not had the heart to put anything here. With no heart for this (or much of anything, for that matter), it's felt futile to sit here and just bang out something to show this has been updated. Reminded of a passage by Carlos Castaneda,
Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.
A little bit of my heart returned yesterday, warmed in the autumnal sun and nurtured by my children. We attended Lilly's school carnival. "Balmy" afternoon is appropriate if by "balm" I mean "salve" or "succor" and an unseasonably warm breeze pushing gold leaves down the street, pushed me outside of myself, where I've needed to be, with my children and not stuck inside myself.
Children have a way of taking your pain and popping it away, like a tetherball; ready to come back and smack you back, jack.
We walked onto the playground and met Lilly's teacher at the first booth, the place where you tossed beanbags at wooden bottles and if you knocked them all over, you got a fake gold coin. Marni was instantly enamored by the gold-coin concept, apparent as it was that the currency bought things from the prize table: stuffed lime-green ducks, princess gear, touchable bubble blow-things, a gazillion goodies to be had for doing what the games demanded. Zeke just wanted to hang onto my pant-leg while Lilly was eager to indulge her teacher’s pet status.
Ms. Ferran met me and said, “Daddy, you have such a good daughter, there,” No doubt of that. Lilly spent most of the day at Ms. Ferran’s booth, setting the bottles back up, collecting bean bags, collecting trash from the playground and presenting it to her like a cat bringing the carcass of a newly killed bird and although the teacher’s pet spent a little time accumulating prizes (mostly modest trinkets, she seemed to have no interest in the larger prizes), when I looked up for her at any given moment, Ms. Ferran’s booth was the first place I checked.
In so many ways, the carnival was a long, deep breath of clear mountain air, not just because it forced me out of my head, took my focus away from the rent in my heart, but it allowed me to let my kids run free with no worries that they’d get snatched or hurt. In the confines of that playground, among other families and under the watchful eye of the faculty, I’d momentarily walked away from everything harsh and ugly and painful.
About a dozen booths were arranged mid-way fashion beyond Ms. Ferran’s pivot point, the fishing game, a penny-toss, ring-toss, Frisbee-toss, everything requiring a little dexterity, nothing so demanding that the wee ones couldn’t win a little something. The booth workers gave dispensation to the smallest children, holding them right over a target to drop the ring or beanbag then awarding a prize even when nothing was hit. Truly, a kid’s paradise.
The penny-toss involved miniature flamingo float-rings holding beer cups in a big tub of water. This was Marni’s bailiwick and her aim was exquisite, whether dropping a cold whoosh into the cup or taking a rebound off the forehead of the kid working the concession. Having found her game, Marni returned again and again, stashing her prize tokens with penurious glee. She’d been by the prize table and had decided on several stuffed animals, two or three princess ensembles, and a large velvet rose. She had her game, she was in the zone, and when the requisite prize tokens had been accumulated, she pushed her way to the front of the prize table to claim her spoils.
Zeke just wanted to fish. Unconcerned with results, unencumbered by any desire other than the desire to wave the plastic rod and reel sacerdotally over the tub of water, an ascetic’s detachment, process, ritual. Every time the magnetized hook latched into the mouth of the robotic fish and he was offered a prize token for the catch, Zeke ignored the prize, preferring to drop the toy hook back into the tub with no other intent than to wave the rod around again.
The old man watching the concession was amused. As children lined up impatiently for their turn, the old man leaned his ancient shoulders towards me, “That boy’s a natural born fisherman!”
“I guess,” me, kind of mumbling, “I only fish to read and smoke a cigar.”
My sarcasm was lost on him and his frame snapped back towards my son, the serious angler. Having no patience for a dilettante like me, not appreciative of my son’s inborn inclination to fish.
Not appreciative? I relished the entire day.