Saturday, March 4, 2017

d u s t

My second grade class was in the the fourth elementary school I had attended thus far. It was a large school with several playgrounds for different grades that wrapped around the exterior of the building. The entire grounds was a vast swath of dried up earth loosely held together by sparse patches of grass all baking in the hot North Carolina sun.

But when I looked out on the expanse of greys and browns, I saw a canvas!

Every recess I would find long sticks and draw pictures in the dust.

Being one of the few white kids in the school and probably the only ginger in the entire town, assuming the role of The Invisible Girl was not easy. But atop my parched canvas, for a few precious moments every day, none of that mattered. I had work to do.

I would dream all day about what I was going to draw, sometimes sketching out ideas. Lunchtime was the worst. With my one moment of freedom so painfully close, sitting at the cafeteria table staring at a puzzling array of weird Southern food; black-eyed peas, collard greens, red hot dogs. Why red? Why not blue, or purple?

And then the bell would ring!

My favorite place to start was under the large oak tree just outside the doorway. There were always sticks laying around, and it was the one large area of shade.

I would draw the simple things any second grader might; cats, dogs, clouds, rainbows. But bigger! Giant cats that stretched from the merry-go-round to the slides!

Occasionally, another kid would come over and try to figure out why I was running around dragging a stick in the dirt. He would cock his head to the side, trying to make sense of the squiggly lines through the dust. Oh, yeah. It's a cat. And then he would lose interest and go back to playing.

Sometimes a teacher would shoo me over in the direction of the other children in a vain attempt to get me to do something remotely fucking normal.

Every day my work was trampled by hundreds of oblivious feet and blown away by the dry, uncaring wind.

Every day, my canvas was new.

Like many things we understood without yet having the words to express, I was swimming in the cool, misty waters of the ephemeral.

Much like our own momentary existence that quite possibly matters to no one other than ourselves, in each successive moment, we are born anew with work to do.

Choose your canvas, whatever is handy at the moment, and create something beautiful every day.

Send that energy out into the universe.

For no reason at all other than it pleases you.

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