Friday, August 05, 2005

Snail Watching

The morning after a big rain is always an exciting time here at the Stoffminger household because I have a rambunctious, precocious, adorable 2 year old who is extremely intrigued by snails. After the rain they fill the yard, hundreds of them. It's amazing to see. They meander up the walls of the house, they nestle themselves deep in the grass, amost invisible to the eye. They take the excruciatingly long journey (if you're a snail) from the yard, over the sidewalk, to the flower bed where they attach themselves to the monkey grass, the leaves bowed over under the weight of their crustacean bodies. It truly is a spectacle to behold. The promise of the possibity of finding a slimy snail treasure is just about the only way I can coax Britton from the house to the car. This is our typical morning routine: exit the door, stop to thoroughly investigate the front porch for rolly pollies (in our household these are called ladybugs as Britt only uses two words for bugs of all kinds...if it flies its a butterfly, if it crawls its a ladybug), then hurry to the lawn to do some snail sluething. So I've taken to snail watching or more acuratley, I've taken to watching Britton engrossed in his snail watching. He lives in such wonder and amazement, in sweet abondonment to the here and now. And, I'm re-learning to live this way as well. Snail watching reminds me to stay conscious, to be aware, to notice the small things, to seek out the details. I'm learning to let snails and ladybugs enfuse my eyes with the same bright wonder that floods Britton's. I'm learning to re-use the word "ta dah!" I'm learning the amazement of living with childlike eyes. I'm learning by stepping back and letting the child lead. And I needed to. It's a sweetly slower pace that's filled with an abundancy of joy.

I love Friday mornings on NPR news. They have this segment called StoryCorp and it never fails to touch my heart. A person tells a very brief portion of their life story and as a result reminds listeners how sweet life really is. This morning it was Jean's turn. She spoke about a time when she really felt empowered. She recalled discovering her husband was being unfaithful. She located the other woman's home, drove there, found her philandering husband's car, picked up a large rock from a neighboring garden, smashed his back window with it, then filed for divorce. Telling the story she was giddy remembering her defiance, her act of self-protection and self-care. Years later her ex-husband told her he still had some of her belongings that she could claim from him if she was ever in his vicinity. She took him up on his offer and received a very heavy box which she hauled through various airport terminals beforing finally arriving home with it. When she was finally able to open the box she discovered that it had nothing at all in it but one bowling ball sized rock - the very one she sent sailing through his window all those years ago. Oh how I love people's stories. I love how one otherwise small and unobservable moment in time completely rocks another person's world. I love the meaning we make from the mundane. I love all the little ordinary events that, added together, create one extraordinary life. I love knowing that although our experiences may be far different we all have those moments, those moments that leave us changed forever. Such delicious moments...What is your story? I'd love to hear it.

I have a beautiful friend named Irma who's been really struggling lately. Her life has been turned upside down and yet she does everything in her power to maintain a positive attitude. She continues to search for purpose and meaning and to trust. Many of the recent changes have been positive but it's still difficult adjusting. It's been raining down on her - hard and heavy. She is a single mother of four beautiful kiddos. She does it all. Is she perfect? Who is? But there is no doubt she loves those kids of hers. She would do anything to give them a better life. She is one of the most generous, compassionate women I know. Her heart is so full of love it just oozes right out of her. So I wanted to send her a little shou-out. I wanted to take a moment to be a little SARK-ish: I send you a blanket to crawl under when you need a short break from it all. I send you a soft, feathery pillow to cry on when you feel like breaking into a million pieces. I send you a magic mirror that will always reflect the truth of your being and reminds you that you are beautiful, talented, intelligent, and loved, even when you don't feel like it. I send you a shower of belssings that will meet all your deepest needs and leave you weeping for joy. I send you all the hugs we long to give but sometimes hold back, not knowing for sure how.

they told you life is hard
it's misery from the start
it's dull and slow and painfull
I tell you life is sweet
in spite of the misery
there's so much more
be grateful
who do you believe?
who will you listen to
who will it be?
it's high time that you decide
in your own mind
Life is Sweet by Natalie Merchant


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all have to grow up at some point and realize that we are adults with adult responsibilites as well as priveleges. Often, we worry about the responsibilities and feel we're owed the priveleges. I have a story of when I realized my being an adult came along with my having more adult priveleges. I was in college, and my sister was dating a guy we'll call Charlie. Well, Charlie was a great guy, but there was something that kept my sister from being crazy about him. She was in high school and he was closer to my age.
One day, she want away to camp for a week, and some of the high school guys there were having a good time judging girls' butts on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best bootie). Stupid, we realize, but we all remember the days. Stupid as it was, my sister became self-conscious as anyone would and, upon her return, asked Charlie what score he would give her. He, of course, said 14. My sister rolled her eyes and requested a real answer. He said fine. . . 7. "Seven????!!!!!" Went over like a lead balloon.
Well, she came to me crying her eyes out (taking care of my sister was an adult responsibility). She couldn't believe he looked saw her as so mediocre. I felt bad for her. But I also felt bad for Charlie, who I assumed simply picked the wrong number. So I explained, on his behalf, what I thought his original thought process was:
"You see, Em, he really thinks your butt is a 14, but you won't let him say that. Well, that means 10 is also out. So he's guessing if he says something around 7.5, he'll be in good shape. But, he probably needs to pick an integer, and since you seem to be scoffing at higher numbers, he picked 7. All this was to make you feel you'd been scored fairly and well. He really thinks you're top of the line, but he'll tell you a lower number to make you feel better."
This made a world of difference to my sister, and she went away with dried tears and a new perspective on her sensitive boyfriend Charlie.
The problem was, she told Charlie that I had explained his thought process to her and that she understood that he was just trying to make her feel better. After this, Charlie said, "No, I actually think it's a 7." Needless to say my sister is now married, but not to Charlie.
My realization that I also had adult priveleges with my responsibilities came when I told my dad the story. He simply dropped his head and said, "You just can't help some people, Wyatt." I realized at that point that my father considered me more of an equal, and that we had some of the same problems. This meant that we had finally come to live similar lives, which was very exciting for me.
It's a very long story that I just regaled, but it was a great coming of age for me. It was then that my father and I became closer, and I learned a lot about what comes with being an adult. While you have more things you have to accomplish, people also listen to your opinion - which has weight. I loved it.
Anyway, Michelle, that's my story. I thought I'd drop one off. I believe stories are the best way to understand life, and I hope to continue to compile stories for the rest of my life - and I'd love to read more stories of yours!



11:41 AM  

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