This morning, walking the dog after I had read through today’s headlines in the news, I found myself thinking about the stories we tell ourselves.
About who we are.
Victim or repairer.
About where we have been.
Cared for or ignored.
About where we are going.
Forward to better or to Hell in a hand basket.
It was not really an Aha moment.
More like a reminder that we all live in very different stories
And those stories drive how we think and act.
And how hard it is for the stories we tell ourselves to be changed.
I went for a walk this morning along the edge of my favorite lake.
While not quite “peak” the changing colors of the fall leaves is breathtaking.
And the water on the lake was still and, like a mirror, reflected the fall colors.
It reminded me of a story a friend told about her first trip to Nicaragua to help dig a well for a rural community. One evening, she brought out a box of crayons and some paper so she could color with the children. The children had never seen crayons before and one little boy asked if he could take one home to show his parents.
She said that evening and that experience and that moment turned her world…
Which way would you say?
The automatic response most likely would be upside down.
But, her response
And, I think the better response is
Right side up.
Which way is your world?
It wasn’t really the racing from the tree to the picnic table which was hard.
Though that was hard enough.
Or, playing the made up game of bouncing the ball off the slide in such a way as to keep me from catching it.
What was hard was the afternoon spent playing with the water table.
A water table is basically a small swimming pool with legs and a couple of additional pieces.
Perfect for plastic dinosaurs and toy boats and bathtub ducks.
What is so hard about that, you ask.
Who knew that dinosaurs and boats and ducks could do so much or get into so much trouble.
Just when I thought we had reached the limit, his mind would spin off in a whole new, dizzying direction.
It was exhausting.
But not for him.
He was having a wonderful time.
His imagination was running wild.
Trying to keep up with him, here is what I learned.
Imagination running wild is hard work.
We would much rather stay with the predictable.
The tried and true.
We know how to handle that.
At least, most of the time.
Tried and true requires much less thinking and energy
Which is maybe why change
Is so hard to come by.
We are just not up to the task.
Not up to the perseverance and creativity of imagining something different.
Something beyond the horizon of what most people can see.
Because that kind of imagination requires hard work.
And, is often
If not always
Did you see the news from a couple days ago?
Hasbro dropped the “Mr.” from the Mr. Potato Head character.
Now it is just gender neutral Potato Head.
Well, sort of.
From what I read Potato Head is in BIG letters on the top of the box.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are in small letters on the bottom of the box.
The decision and the news caused quite a stir.
But what I want to write about it not Mr. Potato Head or now just Potato Head.
That news made a much better title and attention getting intro, and ties in (sort of) with this.
You see, I watch commercials.
Less now than before when I was responsible for having something thoughtful to share with people every Sunday. But I still pay attention. Not because I want to buy anything, but because commercials provide an insight to trends which are happening in the culture around us. I figure those who put all the time and money into producing commercials meant to grab our attention have access to information and data that I will never have. Some of the commercials I get. Like all the commercials for different types of medicine targeted towards people like me who are getting older. And, some of them I watch and just shake my head. In those moments I am reminded of a conversation I had a number of years ago with a marketing executive. When I made a comment about a commercial I did not understand he replied, “It is not meant for you.”
Anyway, here is what I have noticed.
In the last year or so, commercials have changed.
Or, more accurately, the actors in the commercials have changed.
Instead of everyone being white, you now see more people of color.
And, more mixed race couples.
And, more gay couples.
And, more people of different ethnic backgrounds.
More of what our country really looks like.
Maybe not enough, but more.
All this comes with a couple disclaimers and one observation.
My observation is just that. My observation. No data. No counting. Just my impression.
I don’t watch Fox News.
For a number of years I tried, but it became too crazy and I couldn’t take it anymore.
So this does not take into account any commercials from the My Pillow Guy or others who advertise on that station.
If I am correct about the change in commercials, I think the change is not meant for me.
I am not the targeted audience.
The targeted audience are those much younger than me.
My children and their peers who have a very different world view and understanding of the world than I did when I was their age. The commercials I notice is their “normal” for which I am very grateful.
It may be rough to get from here to there.
And, we may have to hang on by our fingernails.
But if we do…
If we do…
The world may just end up being a better place for all.
Is it wasting time
If I just stand and look out the window
At the snow
Down the street
Is it wasting time
If I just stand and look out the window
At everything there
But not seeing any of it
Lost for a moment
In the wilderness of my own soul
For I am not quite sure what
But for what I sense is there
Just beyond what I can see.
I know I am a bit late with this, but over new year I was playing King Fox and Queen Bethany with an almost five year old. That took and takes priority.
But I have been thinking about our new year rituals and celebrations.
New Year’s Resolutions.
Out with the old and in with the new.
10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
And, we are off.
I think it is all a big charade.
A way to fool ourselves into thinking that everything resets.
That we are given a fresh start.
(We are, but often not in the way we imagine.)
That we are ready to plunge into the new...whatever that is.
We don’t really want the new.
New…really new…requires imagination.
And fundamental change.
(We all like progress. It is change we can’t stand.)
And letting go.
And giving up.
All of which is hard.
And so we celebrate with our noise makers and our party hats and our fireworks and our songs.
And then get up the next morning to live the way we did the day before.
Not all of us, but most of us.