Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sign of Compassion

 Today I recalled a story I once heard in one of my high school classes.

There once was a contest to find the Most Compassionate Kid in the world. Parents from all over sent in videos of small children sharing cookies and crayons. Pictures and hand drawn cards to teachers, soldiers, and siblings. Poetry of all kinds.

One video in particular struck the judges.  In it,  an elderly man sat on his front porch.  A small boy walked up, unaware of the anger and bitterness in his neighbor's eyes.  He sat next to him on the step, very close, for hours.  Words might have passed but no talking was visible or audible from the distance the video was shot. The boy sat very still. And then, the man slumped forward and cried. The boy remained, and put his hand on the man's back.

The judges called the little boy. 
     "What did you say to that old man?" they inquired.
The boy looked at them quizzically.
     "I didn't say anything.
          I let him cry.
               And I didn't let him do it alone."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Signs to learn from Mo, part I

One of my plethora of jobs is at an aquarium. I learned to love the fish, the cool touch of the acrylic behind my fingers, the moist air that encompasses me as I walk through the tunnels. First thing in the morning, before the aquarium opens to the public, before the ambiance music is turned on, there is a peacefulness.  It surrounds me and takes me in, like a secret.

I have almost an addiction to that tranquility. And I bought my very first (and then second) fish ever. He is a red crown tail betta named Mozart. Mo for short. He has a one gallon tank on my desk, with a color changing LED light. And now I have that peacefulness at home.  I turn off my lights, draw my black light curtains, turn up my fan, and turn on his light.  It's like magic.

People familiar with a certain popular kid's movie know the motto "Just keep swimming."  Mo has a different motto. He blows bubbles. (I assure you, this is very natural of betta fish, don't be concerned for him!) If I am not feeding him fast enough, he blows bubbles. When he entertains himself, he blows bubbles. The first thing he does when he is in a tiny holding tank while I clean his, is blow bubbles.

And I think it is very zen of him. He takes whatever it is that is getting his gills in a bundle, and just blows it out. Makes him feel better, even happy. If I could let go as easily as he does, just blow it all out, I'd probably enjoy the tank I'm residing in a little more. 
So tonight when I turn off all the lights, and watch the colors change in Mo's tank, that's what I'm going to do. And Mo will nod at me in response, and blow me a kiss, in the form of a bubble.

Soup Spoons

Besides traffic, there are very few things out of my control that get under my skin. One of the more quirky of these are soup spoons.
Why are they so big and pretentious? They are not the best fit for most mouths (and nobody loves soup that much). They don't hang off your nose properly. They sit on the table collecting dust because so few people use them with their soup, and they cramp the space of the other utensils in the dish washer. Plus, they always get mixed in with the other spoons in the untensil drawer, completely throwing off the spooning.

Needless to say, they are more than pointless.

And today, I have come to realize that soup spoons can be a living metaphor.  Today they are a metaphor for irritating jobs (and the big-headed bosses that come with them). Traffic can be a Soup Spoon. So can low-fat lattes,second cousins, and your neighbor's noisy dog.

So if you have an unnatural abundance of soup spoons, or Soup Spoons, I have a few recommendations. Gather up spoons and have a sundae feast. Then throw them at the Soup Spoons in your life. It's a fool proof way to get all of your Soup Spoons out of your life, for good!