Isn’t it funny how you can be there just sitting around, minding your own business and suddenly the gently flowing creek you happened to be sitting by is a river and the straight path you were following is all twists and turns. Sometimes it happens and you can see it happening and other times it’s a bit like waking up from a deep sleep and discovering that your hold world has changed while you had your eyes closed. (Everyone else seems to be aware of the changes or rather the changes are how it has always been to them, and you are struggling just to find your place.)
I was just minding my own business today, doing some research as I am wont to do and suddenly what was a nice and peaceful day changed into a hectic race to pull stuff together for something I didn’t even know had existed before a off-the-cuff text made its way to me. And it was as if I had awoken from a deep sleep and suddenly had to respond to questions and requests with tools I did not know existed, research had carried on with out me and there were new theories to explore and such.
So with a sense of excitement, thrill and yes apprehension I got into the race of getting things pulled together to submit a proposal because obviously people need to hear me speak about my passion. (As if.)
Once the proposal was submitted I tried to go back to my research, but I couldn’t. It was too “tame” or rather my frame of mind had shifted to something else and suddenly research was the last thing I wanted to be doing. (Not that chasing the four-footed one around the house with a squeaky toy was the answer either, but I did it.)
I think, at some point, I will get back to my research. Probably when I need things to calm down again, and once more the river will become a creek, the path will be straight and maybe, just maybe, I will rest against a tree trunk and take it all in.
The only true way to learn a language, I’ve been told, is to immerse yourself in it. Immersion forces you to learn the language in order to be understood, to communicate and so on. The problem with immersing yourself in a language when you are an adult is that it is, well, frankly overwhelming at times.
I know this because I’ve watched a few friends boldly take the plunge and move to places where English is not only not the native language, but is not commonly spoken. And they have all said it was hard to get across basic things, like ordering food or drinks.
When we are younger being immersed is a good thing, it is painless. We are blank pages waiting for words to be written across us. We are open and receptive to learning and being immersed. But a strange thing happens as we get older. We struggle with being open and receptive to this new thing.
Beloved struggled to learn a new language. Beloved is a highly educated and reasonably intelligent man (actually highly intelligent, but whatever) who struggled to use the new words rather than reverting back to his native English. He struggled to express himself properly in the other language.
He told me later on it was definitely a humbling experience because he went from being someone who has been a university lecturer to being reduced to a toddler with the words he was provided. He felt lost, unable to fully express him and he said his lack of these things made him feel less confident. As he put it, “no one is going to ask (me) what color my socks are”, it’s going to be a harder question that I won’t be able to fully answer”. He still feels that way, but perhaps had he immersed himself in the language he might have stood a better change with this. Except he didn’t feel he could do immersion, not with work and such. Plus he said immersion made him feel like he’d be in a blender of sorts, making his two languages confused.
A lovely day to sit in front of the window, watch the birds and read, Beloved declared. And so that’s what we did. Reading, writing, marking and commenting while the four-footed one frolicked happily on the floor. That is until Beloved went to see what he was going to cook and opted to make a fast run to the store for much-needed ingredients etc. He took the four-footed one with him leaving me to carry on where I wast.
A few birds decided to perch on the windowsill near me which is when I noticed it. Not at first, at first I simply enjoyed the antics of the birds. But I noticed that there was something a bit off about one of the birds, something not right with its feathers, I had assumed. Until I looked more closely and realized that seemed like a set of messed up feather was in fact a smear on my window.
After more inspection I realized that the smear was on the inside of the window and it wasn’t alone. The whole window from the bottom to a certain height was covered with smears, whorls and odd marks. And just above that height was what appeared to be the dried remnants of a spray. Upon closer inspection the odd marks appeared to be very closely matched to someone’s nose. A specific someone in the house who is vertically challenged and happens to have paws.
Now for the record, I have never seen the four-footed one at this window. Sure it stands to reason that when the blinds are up she’d be intrigued by the sights out of that window. I just haven’t seen her there. When he returned, Beloved assured me that she likes that window. She likes to bark at the various sights and since the window is rather long as well as tall she has an incredible line of sight. So when she barks, she is right near the window. She also likes to press her nose on the window he said. And the whorls? Her tongue he said with the tone of a man in the know who was also a man getting ready to wash the inside of the windows.
A brilliant red dragon perched ever so carefully on Beloved’s foot as he sat in one of the big chairs that face the setting sun. Curled up in his lap was the four-footed one. The dragon kept watch over the sunset while the four-footed one slept and Beloved was lost in his thoughts.
I stood there, watching them for a period of time. Watching the way the light reflected its different hue so softly against Beloved’s. The four-footed one seemed to be at peace with her day, she had no need or interest in watching the soft apricot light give way to darker reddish-orange glows as the sun continued to set down. I could have stood there watching forever, except that wasn’t possible. Not with the crease deepening on Beloved’s forehead.
He is the sort of man, my Beloved, who will tell you nothing is wrong even when he is dealing with his world shifting in him. He will smile and ask on about you and never give you one moments reason to give pause. And it was no different when we came back from an outing for shoes today and I asked about that faint beginning of a crease just there.
He said it was nothing and went off to face out the big picture window while he did some research. The four-footed one may have noticed that crease grow deeper, changing shape as time went one and they played together. But if she did she wasn’t sharing. And now, with the sun setting and the dragon silently keeping watch, the crease had deepens to the point of being worrisome.
And so I disturbed them, to offer him a cup of tea, which he smiled and turned down. Instead he patted the chair beside him and pointed lazily out the window at the last rays making their way towards the ground. He said nothing until it grew dark and he was lost in the soft darkening shadows. And in that growing darkness he spoke softly, sharing his concerns, as though he couldn’t say any of it while the sun was up.
We sat there, in the darkness, the words heavy between us. Try as I may, I could not ease those concerns, but I could sit with him. Sometimes that’s all any of us can do, and hope we have a perching dragon to watch over with us.
There are some things in life that I just don’t need to experience. I can “experience” them vicariously through others. These things include hiking up a volcano (I’ve opted to leave that for the people on television); swimming with the sharks (just not my cup of tea); running with the bulls (I know I”m going to fall and if that results in being trampled or gored, I’d sooner do that vicariously to be honest); rock climbing without safety gear (again if I’m going to fall, which is highly likely then it should be done vicariously); open heart surgery (really not into this); and having to attend endless children’s dance recitals (I know you think it’s cute to see your child dance, but well that child isn’t mine) just to name a few.
But perhaps the one item that should be right up near the top of my list is doing the Lego fire-walk. I’m not really into fire-walking as a means of proving my mettle or what have you. For the record I have stepped on some Lego, with bare feet even. That was enough. I do not need to walk across a scattering of Lego, barefooted or not. And in case you are wondering how I managed to step on Lego in the first place, Beloved was setting up Lego with one of his nephews. They missed keeping track of some pieces. I found it. With my barefoot around 2 a.m.
So yeah let’s add that to my list along with all the other things I avoid. Such as math. I can do math vicariously thank you. And paying taxes, can that be done vicariously? See, living vicariously is a great way to bond with other people, without all that getting into your personal space portion of things.
Sometimes you have to do things like a fool. Sometimes there is nothing else to do but be the fool. And sometimes playing the fool lets you avoid dealing with the things you fear, at least for a short period of time.
But when you do things like a food, when you play the fool you have to be willing to not care what others will think of you. It’s near impossible to dance in the pouring rain if you worry about what others think of you. I know this to be a fact because I have danced in the pouring rain. I’ve also danced in a light drizzle. Not because it was what I immediately broke into doing when I noticed the rain was coming down. But because there was a finger, a very nice finger attached to a very nice hand which happened to be attached to the body of Beloved beckoning me to join him in the rain.
There was music playing and it seemed to him that the rain shouldn’t be the reason why no one was dancing to it. Of course he’s far more comfortable doing whatever suits him in a moment, regardless of how good or poorly he can carry out that specific task, function or action. (For the record he isn’t a bad dancer, cartwheels on the other hand are a pure disaster, but it did not stop him from attempting them one fine summer day.)
So why do this, because time is precious commodity and if you wait until the right moment you may never find it. You will never perfect everything. At least I won’t. Not to the point of where I want to be dancing in public, but with the right person (the one who says who cares what people think or do) dancing in public isn’t that big of a deal.
I remember one of the neighbor ladies telling me “the higher you get your hair, the closer you are to God” when I was young. After she told me that I assumed she must be near the right hand of God because she had an amazing head of hair.
It was piled up big and high and reminded me of a sculpture. Her hair was an entity all of its own and I used to watch it to see if birds perched on it or what have you. For the record as far as I know no birds ever perched on her hair. Perhaps the most amazing thing about her hair, and there was a lot of amazing things about it, was how it never moved. Not even a fraction of an inch. Big winds were no match for her hair.
My Father said her hair could become an issue for low flying airplanes, especially since it was a tall and unyielding structure. This made her hair even more astounding to me, almost exotic in some ways. Especially compared to the other ladies and their styles which were bland, boring and conservative. They, I reasoned, we’re not as close to God.
I aspired to have big hair, not to be closer to God. But because she made it seem so glamorous. Special sprays and only one person to style it, not to mention that she had to keep a special routine to keep her hair at maximum height. So I grew my hair long and discovered short of wrapping my hair onto a structure affixed to my head, my hair simply would never acquire the height and volume of her hair. Of course I also discovered the nightmare of being trapped in a hair routine. So I cut it off, because too much responsibility is a bad thing in my world.
Today I learned that I cannot follow simple directions when it comes to walking. Oh sure I can do lefts and rights, but ask me to do the whole “left, right, left…” thing and forget it. It’s ruined on the first step.
Sure walking is simple, but I have a foot I like to start with. All the time. Ask me to switch it up, or change the pace to one that isn’t within my normal routine and you might just as well teach me how to walk again. Sorry, I’m not really cut out for this forced uniform thing. And yet when walking with others, just in an informal way, I tend to fall into step with the other people and soon we are kind of in a loose uniformed rhythm of walking.
Of course this isn’t acceptable to some people. Mainly those who insist that we must walk in a uniform rhythm. Just not happening. I know this for a fact now because little old me managed to break the formation’s movement six times before I was asked to leave. Yep leave. As in sorry, you aren’t cut out for this, but thanks for coming out.
Thankfully I do not have to make my living working in this tight uniformed fashion, nor do I have to worry about things like parades. Instead I can just happily do my own thing and remind myself once more that there is concrete proof that following directions isn’t always as easy as you think. Sometimes you can ruin it on the first step, like I did at a workshop for women in the military.
A huge shout out though to those who make the military their careers, no matter their gender. Kudos to those who can follow the orders, thrive on the uniformity and take those risks. Because otherwise folks you’d be stuck with me trying to figure out how to walk properly, never mind having to use a weapon or what have you.
The four-footed one has been keeping a careful eye on the neighbourhood. She knows when people are coming and going. She sees the cats slinking around the various bushes, waiting for the birds to abandoned the trees in favour of the ground. She keeps tabs on the garbage collectors, the mail being delivered and the children making their way noisily.
The four-footed shared her information. Not with me. Not necessarily because she doesn’t want to, but because we don’t share the same language. But when we are out and about visiting other dogs, she seems to share information. The same as when someone comes to ring the doorbell. She alerts her network of watchers, just in case.
Her network, unlike mine, is far-reaching and tight at the same time. But her network is not unbreakable. With the right offer of a distracting in the form of a delicious treat or perhaps a nice toy, a hole forms in this tight network.
Suddenky one of the watchers misses seeing something, and someone slips by unnoticed. There is a gap in the information pipeline leaving the potential for an unpleasant surprise or an unwanted visitor. Not that you can tell the four-footed one any of this. She believes her network is solid, because she forgets how a small thing can distract her or her friends for a period of time.
Around here we get up really early. Not because we want a worm. Not because we want to see the sunrise, although it is rather nice. Nope, around here we get up really early because we don’t want to miss a thing.
Around here we stay up really late. Not because we sleep all day, if we did that we’d miss something. Not because we have wild parties. Nope, around here we stay up really late because there is a moon and starts to watch in the night sky.
Around here we tend to be a little tired. Almost all the time. Some of us around here could nap, heck we start to nap, but we fight it. Because we don’t want to miss anything that happens around here.
And what sort of things happen around here, papers get finished, grades get entered, food gets made and consumed. Toys must be played with and floors mus be licked. Around here books get read, music is played and conversations happen. The happening so round here are ordinary, simple and not to be missed. That’s if you happen to have four-feet, keen sense of smell and vision not to mention excellent hearing. If you happen to have four-feet, you can ensure that the ones with two-feet follow the rules around here.