I remember my first walkabout with my blanky in tow and the assured waddle of a toddler ready to conquer the world. Graduating to circling the block of our suburban home, again alone, as I moved from toddler to surefooted preteen. The world was mine as I viewed lawns neatly mowed, piles in yards of discarded lives. I was known to wave and unbeknownst to me, the friendly gossip chain, noted my whereabouts and dutifully reported back to my parents.
I’ve been walking ever since. These are the times I forget what I know. The neighborhood walk is both predictable and serendipitous. Who would suspect that a mother duck would be incubating her future ducklings on the manicured lawn of an elegant home, or that a woman would be sporting a cockatoo on her arm as I strolled down the shoreline at Alki Beach Park. I didn’t know that cockatoo’s live to 50 and this one had lived with her 70-year-old owner for 27 years.
We all think of change—planning for the future. I wonder how the duck will cross the three lanes of 152nd Street down to Lake Burien, or who will take care of the cockatoo when she outlives her 70-year-old owner.
The only way we stay the same, is if we think we know it all.
I used to think that knowledge meant you were educated, that you had the correct answers. I finally figured out that answers are meaningless if they can’t be applied. With so many variables it is more certain that I’m wrong 90% of the time.
The duck does what she needs to do, and the future is unknowable. She carries on and will find a way to survive. The cockatoo responds to love and knows nothing about its own longevity. Their fate depends on instinct, and best intentions of others.
I write and I read. One would think I was smart. However, I test horribly and as I entered high school, I was advised not to take advance classes, and in college I was directed to take a light load. Their message was clear—take less courses, take longer to graduate, you are not as smart as the others here. I laughed at the audacity of these judgements. They had failed to put in their formula, passion, desire, interest, and fortitude. Making me chose my future by their knowledgeable assumptions. (Note: I graduated with honors on time.)
I’m allergic to true and false, yes and no questions. Forced to chose between two options none of which I feel are adequate to describe a situation, I rebel. Cornered into the paradigm of black and white, me or you, us or them, right or wrong, I avoid the trap by clarification. Tell me more, give me whys and ways, open the question to apply knowledge. Usually, the answer is yes and no— it depends.
Today a fellow walker took me down a new road, crossing into territories where the houses showed their age, the fences were made of wire combs, and where wildflowers and weeds became the lawn. Instead of lawn mowers the owners were out with the electric weed whackers. Do Not Trespass signs hung on the fences instead of the neat triangle signs stating Protected by ADT. Those out and about waved and wished us a fine day. We completed a three-mile loop of diversity coming back to the colorful signs of a Gay-pride celebration. A microcosm of the world surrounds me.
My walkabouts feed my curiosity, allow for doubt which halts the need to label. I’ve become a virtuous skeptic to truths hardened into denials. Even a handmade birdhouse gives me pause—the vision of one person able to question, design and create something out of nothing.
I forget what I know and the spark of light within me shines.
Thanks to www.Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and usage. I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:
MEANING: noun: A tall, glamorous, self-assured woman.
ETYMOLOGY: A blend of glamor + amazon. Earliest documented use: 1943.
MEANING: noun: A source of trouble, especially problems of technical nature.
ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps from an alteration of the word goblin or from Irish gruaimin (a gloomy person). Earliest documented use: 1929.
NOTES: Originally, the word gremlin was Royal Air Force slang for a low-level employee. From there it evolved to refer to a mythical creature responsible for problems in aircraft. The word was popularized by the novelist Roald Dahl, a former fighter pilot with the RAF, when he published his children’s book The Gremlins in 1943. It’s not certain how the term was coined.
She walked like a glamazon, head held high with elegance oozing from her smile. No one would suspect this dynamic petite woman was grandma who loved poetry or that she was the gremlin who secretly sabotaged the national computer system.
We are on the cusp of this time where I can say, “I speak as a citizen of the world” without others saying, “God, what a nut.”-Lawrence Lessig, professor, and activist (b. 3 Jun 1961)
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.-Niels Bohr, physicist, Nobel laureate (7 Oct 1885-1962)
I include anything creative on contemplative as adding to my writing. I’ve filled my blank pages with art, poetry, and ideas. Sealy’s search for clarity of her past and present world has twisted through old paths and new ones. The serendipitous past and present merge. She too hates to make a choice—as if there is one way to view a life. I’m enjoying her viewpoint.
Here is one of my latest paintings:
As the summer begins, I’m looking forward to contacting my readers, friends, and followers. If you’d enjoy a talk with your book group or other writing groups, contact me here.
I’m reading The Promise by Damon Galgut, a book centered in South Africa spanning the time before and after Mandela’ release from prison. Over thirty years, and four funerals, we learn the thoughts of three privileged children, grown to adulthood and the relationship towards their Black house cleaner. The book’s voice crosses the line between the omnipotent narrative and into first person/ third person viewpoint. While this can be confusing the setup fits the chaotic times of apartheid and the role of whites and black. Guilt and history divide the family’s loyalties. A haunting book.
A million tiny pieces
Of me scattered
In the sky
I shine for you
As my heart
With my life
I will never