The Practice Run

water

Former pilot Mike Mayes could see for miles from his vantage point at the top of the water slide. Leaning against the curved cockpit-like windows lining the enclosed platform, he was flying again, cutting through the sky, when the whistle of the ride attendant brought him back to earth, or at least to the platform 150 ft above earth.

“Hey, you! Get ready! You’re next.”

Mike shouted back, “OK! OK! I’m ready. Just give me a minute. OK?”

In a bored, I’ve heard this a million times voice, the attendant said, “Sure, dude, whatever. Sit down, cross your feet and cross your arms over your chest. When you’re ready lean forward, take a little jump and let gravity do its thing. Don’t wait too long or I’ll have to give you a  push.”

Mike’s eyes clamped shut. He wanted… no, he needed this ride to be all about the sensations and the darkness. Since being grounded 4 months ago he knew only darkness. This practice run would help him figure it all out. Could he make the jump into nothing, ending his pain? He chose this water slide due to its almost immediate vertical fall. So with the smallest of movements he leaned forward, jumped … and realized that his body was not making contact with the slide. As he fell, a kaleidoscope of images passed through his mind and transported his soul to a place of wonder and excitement. The misty water falling with him and the cool air soothed his tortured soul. His body finally smacked against the slide as the tube curved to horizontal. Briefly knocked out, he kept going through a series of ascents, spirals and descents before splatting hard into the pool.

The blazing sun greeted him when he opened his eyes and he felt prickly stinging sensations all over his body that began to itch something fierce. He couldn’t remember where he was until he felt someone dragging him out of the way of the next thrill seeker.

He crawled up the steps of the pool, flopped his body onto the hot pool deck and wept, relieved he had taken the practice run. The journey from platform to pool had blown away the darkness, replacing it with an exhilarating lightness and longing for life.

He limped to the stairway, ready to slide again. And again.

Rethinking The Giving Tree

There are spoilers.

givingtreeYesterday I read reread The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, published way back in 1964. This short, sweet story of the relationship between a tree (the Giving Tree) and her boy has been read and reread by millions of parents to their children over the past half century possibly with no other thought than “oh, how sweet. the tree will give anything and everything to the boy she loves.”

When I read it yesterday I thought, “oooh, no. Something about this story is wrong.”

It is the short, not-so-sweet story of the selfless vs. the selfish. Don’t everyone boo, hiss at once. Think about it. The boy (and it is always The Boy as if he never grows up in the heart of the tree) climbs on the tree and eats the apples as a child. And then, lo and behold, he does grow up and he goes away. When he comes back to the tree it is always with a whine because he needs something, and the tree always gives that thing he needs which happens to be part of her very self. Ultimately, she sacrifices her life for The Boy.

Somehow, someway, in Silverstein’s story she still has a voice (life?) as a stump at the end.

And the tree was happy ….                 but not really.

~p. 56 (?), The Giving Tree

But the reality is, when you cut down a tree, it’s all over for the tree. Do apple trees send offshoots from the roots? Do they have more lives after destruction?

Am I being too literal? Where are the tree’s boundaries? Where is its self-care? And where is the lesson that we are stewards of the earth and should treat what is given to us responsibly? Perhaps if the boy might have planted some of the tree’s seeds from her apples before killing her.

Silverstein has personified the tree into a one-dimensional caregiver, capable of only giving selflessly until she has given all. In my oh, so enlightened 2016 brain, this is not a healthy thing to teach a child.

I love a good children’s story about children and the nature that surrounds them, that teaches them how to treat others, and that influences them as they grow older. I’m not so sure The Giving Tree is that story anymore.

 

 

What I’ve been up to — reading-wise and otherwise

What I have not been up to, obviously, is writing on this blog. Every week, I pledge to write at least 2 posts, and every week, I’m lucky if I manage to get even one. Yeah write? Yeah right… hasn’t really happened. But they do have this big super challenge coming up and if I just gather up the courage to register, then there’s that. Only those writings can’t be published right away. Still.

So on the otherwise front, I’ve been knitting and sewing for little Margot, and visiting her in Virginia, too. Babies are awesome in every sense of the word.

The Reading Front

I have been reading. Some from my list challenge and some not. Woohoo. I’ll make this short and and sweet.

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A children’s book published in 1943 only children can understand.

One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.

~says the fox to the Little Prince

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1890. Everyone has heard of Oscar Wilde, haven’t they? According to this recent Wall Street Journal article, his literary star is rising again. This Irish playwright and writer of epigrams only published one novel and this was it. Dorian Gray exists in several versions, both censored and uncensored, with themes of beauty, decadence and duplicity. I really liked it.

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.

~The Picture of Dorian Gray

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813. What is it about Jane Austen? Everyone loves her or so it seems. At least all women do from what I understand. She is a fine writer, and this is a good book, perhaps I just don’t know enough about her and her writing. I did read this in college, though I had forgotten. I still have my copy that has parts highlighted, and it wouldn’t have happened unless I had been in a class. This is Austen’s novel with Mr. Darcy.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

~Pride and Prejudice

 

No Escape from Reality

Is this just real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide

No escape from reality

~Freddie Mercury

 

In the land of the Magic Kingdom, the horrific happened, Mr. Mercury. There is no escape from this reality.

Mr. Dylan, how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see? How many deaths will it take til he knows that too many people died?

Too many.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

~Bob Dylan

 

Not just in Orlando, but around the world, too many are dying. Dying in terrorist attacks, and attacks from those they thought loved them. Dying for lack of health care, clean water, and medicine. Dying in wars and because of wars, stranded far from the land they love. Dying in ways that we cannot even imagine.

Will we overcome one day? Will we all be free, Mr. King? I want to believe.

Deep in my heart,

I do believe,

We shall overcome some day.

~1960s Civil Rights Movement anthem

 

Will that day be in my lifetime? Will my grandchild, Margot, see that day?

I don’t know the answer. This time terror and hate struck close to home, but everyday I pray for the world, everyday I pray for peace. It’s an impossible order, but I pray that no one has to die for who they are or for what they believe.

I have hope, because the alternative is unacceptable.