Saturday, April 28, 2012
The globe sat on the corner of Mrs. Litchenburger's desk. My 2nd-grade classmates and I sat in rows of wooden desks facing hers. We bent over our worksheets after she had given out instructions in her calm, sweet voice. After a few minutes, a line of children would form at her desk. We probably could have worked out the math problems on our own, but at the first sign of trouble we gravitated to her desk for help, pulled by her warmth, her unlimited patience, her gentle humor.
As I waited, I picked up the stapler on her desk, liking the heft of it, the click-thunk as it incised metal lines on my worksheet. I even drew blood once from my index finger after wondering if it could pierce flesh.
But the best piece of entertainment on Mrs. Litchenberger's desk was the globe. The oceans were a light aquamarine, the continents a range of browns and greens and spots of white that blurred as I spun the globe. It was tippy when spun fast, so I held on to the metal base as I watched North America whirl past and the wide blue of the Pacific emerge from the other side. After several dizzying rotations, I pressed my finger down to stop it at a point on the vast and exotic People's Republic of China or the neighboring Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Peking. Leningrad. The place names were meaningless to me and, I have to admit, didn't evoke much curiosity. What I loved was the mad spinning that made every big city and little town and huge continent and little island seem insignificant. I enjoyed the abrupt stop and the randomness of where my finger would land.
Now, as an adult, I feel much more like the spun than the spinner, twirled about as I face the demands of even ordinary days: getting the kids out of bed and fed and on their way to sports practice and school, paying bills and looking for ways to balance the budget, keeping the clutter and germs and bugs in the house and the weeds outside the house under control, short trips for shopping or ferrying the children around, etc.
I try to stop the spinning briefly to land on some island of time that's all my own, a foreign land that is still and quiet where I can hear my own thoughts and shape them into a narrative. Most days that effort seems beyond my control, spun up and around by the appointments on my calendar, my head spinning and unfocused.
But this morning, I seem to have landed on that little island briefly, after a day of tending to a sick child and an early night. A few other things have brought me to this place of memory, of drawing lines of connections between past places and present. This morning I received an email from a dear friend who is going through earth-moving changes. An email last week from my neighbor and writing friend Natalie reminds me that it is important to visit that place of creativity as often as I can, to situate myself in the place I live now and to share its ordinary meaning and beauty with my friends and loved ones.
The web, with its ever-multiplying places to visit, seems to be spinning by me at too fast a pace to keep up with. But I wanted to share a few places where I have been hanging out lately and spending some time:
Nesting Great Blue Herons at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology
Live from Daryl's House
Monthly digital calendars (and daily creativity) from Geninne
Of Monsters and Men
Vlogbrothers (this one's from my daughter :) )
PaintedParrot (Natalie's evocative "I Would Like to Paint" is here)
I hope life is spinning around at a pace that's just right for you.