Thursday, July 9, 2015

When I weep (and I bet you do, too!), and it's not bad...

The other night I was reading a bedtime story to my daughter, and I got to that place, the same place in this particular story that GETS me every time! We were reading, "Going West", which is a boiled-down story book in a series that condenses the Laura Ingalls-Wilder "Little House" books. If you have not taken time in your life to read the entire Little House series - stop what you are doing right now, and READ THEM ALL. I don't care what age you are, they are a thrilling, educational, heart-warming read. And when you're done with the Little House books, read the "Little Britches" book series, by Ralph Moody - reminiscent of the Ingalls-Wilder books, but from a boy's point-of-view. A bit more coarsely written, but every bit as fascinating!

But I digress, I was reading "Going West" to Hoxie, and I got to the part that always makes me cry. Up to that point, the story tells of the young Ingalls family, and how they love their little home in the woods, but they decide to go west because there is too much encroachment from other settlers. So they either pack up or sell off all their possessions, and in the dark of an early morning, they bundle up in their wool and fur clothes and load up in the wagon. But before they leave, they hear the jingling of bells and see the glow of lanterns coming through the woods - the big send-off from all of their family. And then...
My best "teacher hold". I used to sit on Mrs. Knecht's chair in kindergarten and pretend to read picture books to imaginary students.
Why does this touch me so deeply? In the space of a couple short pages in a children's book, I am reduced to tears. I think it's because I identify with the sentiment. I, myself, am far away from home. I have been the centerpiece of many family send-offs, in both my family and my husband's family. I bet you have, too. Think back to when you left for college for the first time - or for the last time. Or when you left your childhood home before moving into your own place. Or when you went on a mission trip. Or whatever your own version is. In my family, much like Laura's, whoever's home at the time usually helps carry out the suitcases and load up the laundry bags. Hugs are passed around. And then after one last wave, they call out endless warnings and directives: watch for deer... do you have enough gas? Pull around to the tank and Dad will fill you up... if you stop at a rest stop, make sure you park at the far end closer to the exit, so that you aren't at the front where other tired drivers might come in groggy and hit you... call us when you get there so we don't worry! And then they all just stand there and watch as you back up, turn around, and pull away with a perky beep and a sigh as you wipe away a tear.

But I'll tell you why this kind of crying is NOT a bad thing. Even though it can be hard, it's living proof that you are part of a family, a place, a time, where you feel loved. And though you may be far away, that love doesn't end or stop. Especially these days, the world is a small place. When Laura's family packed up and headed west, they weren't for sure where they were going or if they would ever see their loved ones again. We can FaceTime with cousins who are in their living room from our own living room in another country. Isn't that grand?


When I see something "great". I don't mean neat or good or fun or enjoyable. I mean great, like an act of greatness. Something of highest quality, something to aspire to, something few others would ever be able to do. Think, Kerri Strug. If you're a fan of the Magnificent 7 (and who isn't?), by all means, watch and enjoy. If you're in a hurry, start at about 37:30 into the video.

Or if you REALLY wanna turn on the water-works, add an animal into the mix. Watch this video of bridleless freestyle reining (complete with lead changes, spins, and sliding stops) by Stacy Westfall.

Memories of the "good old days". A while back, one of my high schoolmates posted videos of our school's marching band on youtube. I was in band (yeah, I'm THAT cool), and we considered ourselves pretty intense. Not only did we accompany our school's football team every Friday night for a LONG season (our team was state champions or runners-up EVERY year that I was in high school - when your sousaphone players start decorating their instruments with Christmas wreaths you know it's gotten ridiculous), but we also competed in one or sometimes two marching band competitions every Saturday during the fall. But before that we rehearsed all summer long - a week at Indian Hills for Band Camp - rehearsals for 3 to 6 hours a day during parts of the summer - then 3 hours three nights a week once school started. Sweltering heat and sunburns. Mosquitos under the stadium lights during late-night rehearsals. Hearing "run it back" for the 2,000th time. Competing for coveted rankings and solos. Memorizing music and drills. Marching (and trying not to slip and fall) in the rain and mud. Jazz running! Shivering in blistering cold and trying not to freeze your lips to your metal mouthpiece (I was a trumpet player - but other instrumentalists had different concerns - let me just say, "clarinet condoms"). Trying not to let the reverb of performing in a large stadium (or even the RCA dome, then home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts) mess with your timing and synchronization. The nerves that come with performing in a stadium full of fans and critics, and praying that you don't frack, squeak, or run out of chops. And shall we mention the elephant in the room? Trying to create GOOD music while running around on a field! What made us DO it?

Your memories may not include band specifically, but I bet you were into your own thing... sports, mock trial, drama productions, you name it. We were just a bunch of crazy, pixie-stix-shooting teenagers. Working together. Taking ourselves and our tasks seriously. But having fun and sporting some AWESOME fashion and hairstyles while doing it - don't you miss the '90s? That commitment, the idea that we were all fully bought-in. For a bunch of bratty teenagers, it's really touching how we all threw ourselves into the hard work, the long hours, the pressure. When I look back at the videos and remember, for some reason it take my breath away.

If you look closely you'll be able to see/hear a quaking-in-terror little freshman trumpet player in the center of a quintet on the 50 yardline at about 2:38 into the video. That's me!

Of course, crying is just an outward expression of emotions we have on the inside. Sometimes crying indicates distress or sadness. But sometimes it just happens when your heart overflows.

1 comment:

  1. That's a wonderful post. I completely enjoyed reading your words and watching the videos, and remember where I was during that Olympics (glued right in front of the TV with my husband!), and watching that wonderful rider and horse, and thinking about my own high school dramas (which had nothing to do with band) - wow! And it all started with a book ... as many things do. Thanks for sharing that.