Yesterday in a conversation a friend said, “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” The turn of phrase works as a way of conveying, “yes, I understand you.” In this case I was left thinking. Which part of what had already been said was my friend responding to? Later I wondered what we miss when we reduce experience, instead of sharing it.
Every morning when we wake, we make choices. A husband rolls over in bed and kisses his wife. He is choosing the marriage. Your child walks into your room and says, “Mom, I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast?” Maybe you ask for a moment, because you can’t think until the smell of “good morning” coffee drifts through your home. You make breakfast (or delegate it to an older sibling). In both cases, you choose to parent. You go to work, to the job you have. Typically you don’t think about these events as decisions you’re making, not really. You just make them. After a while you recognize a sameness to each morning. To each day. There’s comfort in that.
There’s loss, too, when we move through our mornings and miss the wonder that’s present. Your spouse is choosing you, as you are her, even if she just rolls-over in response. Your children start the day with expectation, because you’re good at the thing no parent ever believes, being their parent. You go to work because it gives you life, or gives you the income you need to live.
What if we recapture some of the wonder? Imagine the possibilities. What follows is excerpted from Robert Fulgum’s blog. Here’s to breaking through the sameness of the day, and finding wonder. Here’s to possibility. What’s growing, inside you?
I remember . . .
Kindergarten . . .
Little white paper cups with a cotton ball inside.
And some water.
On top of the cotton, a seed.
The cups were placed in a cookie tin.
The tin was placed on the window sill in the winter sun.
Above the steam heat from the radiator.
And we waited . . .
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday . . .
And waited . . .
Thursday, Friday . . .
And over the weekend, while we were not watching, the miracle happened.
By Monday the seeds had cracked and something white was reaching down while something green was reaching up.
A tiny plant had come to life.
I still remember . . .
It’s been a long time since I did the seed-in-the-cup drill.
But I did it again on Friday.
A brown ceramic tea-cup, a cotton ball, water, and two nasturtium seeds.
On a south-facing window sill to catch the sunlight.
Like a gambler throwing dice at a craps table I shouted at the seeds,
Come on, baby, do it for Bobby!
Bobby needs Spring!
Peering at the two still-inert seeds through the magnifying glass, I see nothing. No sign of life.
I know it’s in there.
But so far, nothing’s happening.
I am impatient.
Come on, come on, come on – do it!
Nothing . . .
Maybe they’re not seeds – just little rocks after all – I’ve been scammed.
Maybe I should try a new batch – raid my wife’s supply saved from last year.
Maybe I should open another packet of seeds.
I did buy nine packets. (Nine is my lucky number.)
I have California orange poppies, a morning glory mix, blue corn flowers, three other kinds of nasturtiums, a mix of flower seeds to attract hummingbirds, and a mix to attract butterflies.
Enough to cover half the yards in the neighborhood.
The mixes never seem to work out and grow and bloom.
But I buy them because of their possibilities.
In my mind it is high summer and they are doing their job.
The yard is full of flowers and hummingbirds and butterflies.
When I open the packets and poke around in the seeds with my fingers, that’s what I imagine.
When I was a child my father often warned me that if I swallowed a seed – orange, watermelon, grapes – a plant would grow out of my nose and ears.
A harmless father joke, I suppose.
Little did he know how seriously I took the proposition.
Or how often I deliberately experimented with seed-swallowing.
And how anxiously I checked my ears and nose for signs of green sprouts.
The results were disappointing, of course.
But I attributed the failure not to my father’s mischief but to my choice of seeds and lack of information about how to fertilize them.
I even ate some dirt.
Yes, I really did.
Recall that every part of the nasturtium plant is edible.
So . . .
In tribute to my father’s sense of humor . . . in memory of my childhood hopes . . . in the firm belief that maybe I’ll get it right someday . . . and knowing that when it comes to matters of LIFE, anything can happen . . .
I ate three nasturtium seeds on Friday afternoon – just after I placed the other two seeds in the cup.
Maybe this time . . .
(It’s easy, actually – like taking a pill. Think of seeds as a diet supplement.
I popped them into my mouth, swallowed, and washed them on down with a glass of warm water. No dirt this time.)
As I was falling asleep that night, I laughed out loud.
“What’s funny, dear,” my wife asked.
“Wait and see,” said I, imagining the moment in a few days time . . .
“What’s that growing out of your ear, dear?”
“Part of a salad.”
“Nasturtiums – just wait until they bloom!”
~ Robert Fulghum