Puffins and Perspective

The day started with a fresh dusting of snow. Elihu and I had a cheerful morning, a really lovely one in fact, and as I watched his school bus disappear down the bending road I had hope in my heart for a good day to follow. The sun shone, and I set about to get some things done which I’d long postponed.

With the help of some local men I had dad’s harpsichord moved from the unheated Studio back to his home office. (Thankfully, south-facing windows had let in enough sun to prevent the room from becoming as cold as it was outside.) I then had them move the prehistoric suitcase Rhodes from my basement to the Studio. And finally, I had my new buddies transport a treadmill, a gift from a very kind piano student of mine, to my own home. My heart was euphoric when I fired it up for the first time. Walking, back in the day, was the only real exercise I ever took to. It was the key to my first major weight loss, my first 10K, even my mental health. I am determined not to use it as a giant clothes rack. And now, what with a family membership in the local Y costing upwards of $800 a year, my opportunity for a fresh start seems once again possible. I hope.

After that I knocked a few tedious errands off my list, and by the time Elihu’s bus dropped him off at home, I was feeling light of heart. While I try to keep my spirits hopeful in spite of things around me, my heart does not often feel like this. And I remembered again today that it feels good to feel good.

On top of all that feel-good stuff, Elihu and I went to the mall to enjoy a plate of bourbon chicken from the Cantonese family that runs the Famous Cajun Grill (what they serve is in no way Cajun inspired) and to see Happy Feet 2 in 3D. We arrived early to stake out our seats and were greeted at the door by our next door neighbor (such a nice surprise!). To pass the time until the movie started, Elihu went to jump around and get all sweaty in the large bouncy-bounce set up in the middle of the food court. I indulged in reading some energy-zapping tabloid for a bit, then we collected ourselves and made it to our seats in time for an epic run of previews.

The movie, being about birds who can groove, could not possibly have been more appropriately tailored to Elihu, my bird-loving, djembe-playing son. I watched him watching the movie. I watched as he lifted his arms in flight, as he tapped out rhythms on his lap, as he clasped his hands together in joy, marveling at what he beheld. Our day had been good, our evening perhaps better.

In the car we talk about the themes of the movie. He is the one who begins the discussion. He is outraged about what we are doing to the planet, to animals, to each other. Together we lament humanity’s situation, and together we reaffirm our resolve to live in the most loving, responsible way we can. The evening continues in warmth and joy.

But then I get home and after changing into my comfy bed clothes while Elihu works on a penguin drawing, I check my email to find I posted a rather personal message on someone’s Facebook wall. My ears get hot. So far, I’ve not done something this careless before. I tell myself we’re all human, things like this happen to everyone sometime. I tell my ego that I’m done with her, and that at the end of the day this crap doesn’t matter. Yet here I am, at the end of my day, and it I find it is mattering. Ugh. It’s been such a wonderful day, and now I’m here wallowing in embarrassment. It feels a bit as if I just hit the ‘reply all’ button. As I’m dwelling on it, alternating between making cases for feeling bad and cases for letting myself off the hook, Elihu comes into my room and interrupts my internal chaos.

He wants to show me what he’s just drawn.  His eyes are wide with anticipation of my audience. A smile begins to spread on his face. He hands me the paper, waiting for me to take it in. It’s pretty spectacular. He has drawn a puffin in the foreground with a vast, sweeping expanse behind. I can feel the space, the distance. The puffin has wonderful details – tiny white dots in the eyes, textured lines throughout his plumage – and he stands out, crisp and authentic. He has drawn a picture with such an impressive sense of perspective.

Ok, I think I can forgive myself this small mistake tonight. It’s been a blessed day, and there’s no need to ruin it. Thank you, Elihu, for reminding me what matters. Thanks for the perspective.

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