shadows and dust and Cats and accordion necks
(first appeared at https://thewritinggarden.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/the-writing-garden-issue-four/)
I’m looking out my third-story window and there is a tree that I’ve seen a thousand times before but for some reason today, it is beautiful. Actually, the tree itself isn’t beautiful but the shadow it casts on the snow is beautiful. The tree has no leaves and is actually quite ordinary. The shadow – purple and all stretched out against a perfectly white background- is wonderful and I wonder why I’ve suddenly stumbled upon this scene and appreciated it when it’s no doubt been there most of the winter.
I could say that it has to do with the angle the sun is hitting the tree or the cloudless sky but the truth is, I just never invested any energy into seeing beauty in it.
I’d like to illustrate my point with a visual.
Imagine for a minute that people had accordions where their necks are. Now imagine how annoying it must be to be in a crowded car traveling along a bumpy road if everyone has accordions for necks. Don’t stop at reading this; picture it in your head. Imagine the noise of five heads bobbing up and down slightly as you travel over each bump in the road. The noise it makes.
People just don’t work hard enough to find whimsy in their lives.
You will bust your ass to catch a plane or pay a bill but you won’t take ten seconds to picture something that might make you laugh.
Now take another ten seconds and imagine how well weighted hats would sell in a universe where people had accordions for necks.
I know, I know, the new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu but don’t you owe it to yourself to take a little mental vacation?
Would people just get used to the sound of heads going up and down as they walk and run and dance or would it drive everybody mad? Would the world be filled with insane people jumping up and down for the sole purpose of making their accordion necks make noise?
The deaf would be envied.
Is that what you’re saying to yourself every time you miss the chance to feel whimsy? That the days aren’t really passing and you can get them back and you’ll always have time later on to appreciate a witty observation. That there won’t come a day when party time and potty time will elicit the same enthusiasm.
Happiness takes effort. I’m not talking about making money or repairing a relationship. I mean taking a breath and selfishly allowing yourself to keep your mental faculties sharp. Are you even capable of appreciating beauty anymore? Not nodding your head in time with the rest of the sheep at some painting but grabbing a poignant moment in your own life and drinking it and swishing it around your mouth and swallowing. Lying in a tub of it. When is the last time you laughed until you snorted or made some other obnoxious sound?
Go to any comedy club and you will literally see people trying not to laugh. They paid money to watch a comedian and yet there they sit trying not to laugh. Are they afraid that if they laugh they will set off their accordion necks and everyone will turn to see what the ruckus is about? Do they worry that laughing will leave lines around their mouths like embarrassing stains on their shirts?
So for the love of all that is holy, take a full minute to imagine being in a car with people who have accordions for necks. Follow that train of thought to all the silly places it leads. Fight for the brief flicker of joy it will elicit when you think of something that only you could have come up with. You owe it to yourself.
I’m just the tree. Your imagination is the shadow… and it’s been sure nice talking to you.