My Mom recently shared some little anecdotes from when I was kid. I found this one rather sweet:
“Discovered the other day that Beth doesn’t cower when involved with selfish children at the sandboxes in the parks. She hangs right in there, quietly knowing her rights. One little girl had a mass of toys and wouldn’t share them. Beth gathered some twigs we had been using as candles on a ‘sand cake’ and gave them to the little girl – all that she had – and the girl threw them out of the sandbox. It was touching – as have been other recent expressions of sharing Beth has been showing. Am glad to see her strong little spirit and that it’s allied with gentleness.”
I got to overthinking about this from all sorts of angles. Unsolicited twigs, ungrateful little girl. No wonder I sometimes get reluctant to give them out to people. But then, who wants a whole load of twigs anyway? That’s mighty rude of me to dump them in someone’s sandbox like that. There are better twigs out there, toys even. I probably should keep my twigs to myself. Or ask first. Or at least have the sense to spread them around a little, maybe a twig or two won’t piss you off like a whole bunch of them, maybe you’ll be indifferent enough to allow me to put one in your box. Dead detritus from living trees. I myself will pick them out of the volleyball court with my toes between plays.
And so in a sense I’ve conditioned myself to expect that no one wants my twigs. I hesitate to promote them. I underestimate their value. I try to keep them in my own sandbox. And so I go off there and sit quietly playing and building things out of them, things that I like, that I find pretty or interesting, never expecting anyone will want or understand the new things I fashion from the unpopular twigs. No one will want to play in my sandbox, why would they? It’s just me and my twigs in there.
Then every now and then someone expresses an interest in them and I get confused, disturbed, like my mind is struggling to divide by 0, or take the square root of negative 1. Does not compute, it’s too much, irrational.
Why? Maybe because if someone starts wanting my twigs, starts playing in my sandbox, starts gathering up their own, what does it say about me?
I don’t know. I take myself too seriously sometimes. That was a long time ago, I’m not the same little girl. Maybe I’ve turned into the other one, shellfish. Maybe she’s turned into me.
Sometimes I can’t see the tree for all its twigs.