In the gym where my children take gymnastics class, I sit on a ledge of cubbies, looking out beyond a short fence, much the way people observe the flamingos at a zoo. I watch my daughter spring from a trampoline, the pole of her body, a green shoot with an edge. I watch my son, ignoring his coach’s instructions as soon as the coach turns his attention to another child. I noticed the round parachute made up of a rainbow of triangles. With small, almost unnoticeable sturdy cloth handles running along the perimeter. I remember the joy, unbridled, when invited beneath the balloon we made of it, raising our arms, up, up up, then in a dash, sitting on the very edge of the perimeter. That moment when you sit beneath it, like being inside a fort of sheets or beneath an upturned canoe. It’s an extraordinary place that kind of cradles our idea of what childhood should be.
Why though did that particular image stand out to me above all other? Because I want so much to create that winsome world now for my own children. The cocooned world of filtered light, softened voices, safety nets, and magic. Not the kind of magic that requires potions or poorly written spells that our witch of the week will get wrong, turning herself into a Mongoose, but the magic of our everyday. It feels safe to live beneath a parachute, always there to remind you of rainbows, that you’ll continue to fall, just next time, fall better.
Cave walking, I’m told, has everyone making grunting sounds in one form or another. Ahh, can you believe people lived like this? Oooh look over here, this must’ve been a bedroom. Can you imagine? Where would I put my purse? Those are adults trying to pretend how a life was lived. Not adults looking for the adventure of what they could create there. They are imagining in the wrong direction. Does this resonate with anyone? I’m not sure I’m explaining it right. But I believe we come to a point where we stop looking everywhere and instead look where it’s been most practical, and most accepted as correct, so we move toward that. Flip it. How would you now live there?
Returning to the initial “why” Why did that one image in a gymnasium full of unusual rituals and equipment, stand out for me? What does that tell you about who I am, that I picked that image above all others?
My answer:Because that parachute 1) was always a time to finally get to sit… a definite #1 for Moose. 2) it provides softness and whimsy, a sense of delight, like a first snowfall. The light changes beneath a parachute, sounds travel differently. You can whisper and it will go a long way. I love that there are these small things in our lives, things we encounter daily, ordinary nothings that have the ability to be the beginning of an everything. The cardboard box. Exactly.
We should strive to find more of them, everyday objects that reconnect you to a part of who you were when the world felt enormous, and life felt safe and secure, bundled. Looking for extraordinary in ordinary is what we should all strive to do.
Adults find rides back to their childhoods by reliving them with children, but I can relive it from here, across a gymnasium, with both children in separate arenas, I can live in here for a while, imagining myself under that tent, feeling the cool air on my face as the balloon of our parachute deflates. But more than that, I can take it with me and look for more everyday magic. I want to be the mom that sets the dinner table UNDER the dinner table! Closed intimate spaces, darkly lit, a librarian with a special glass story time lamp, they’re all the warmest memories of my childhood. Making a tent in my parents bed, then picking callouses off her feet as I massaged them with Kerri lotion and Lea rubbed poppa’s head with a paper towel. “It’s too greasy otherwise.” I love that. I love those weird funky life of memories and want to make them as often as we can.