Get out of your brain and ponder life’s beach balls
It’s Easter Sunday morning. I begin the seemingly impossible task of filling a blank page with coherent words to meet a deadline.
Why? Isn’t a pure white page enough? Who am I to top that? Is it as empty as it appears? Even in its highly processed form, this blank page from nature contains more stories and cohesion than anything I can ever hope to produce upon its bright surface. Some of you will have no problem agreeing with that.
A big fat robin just landed on the tip of one of the skis I have crossed up against the deck railing overlooking the river. Perhaps it is completely useless for me to expect that I can add to spring’s message of renewal and hope by jotting down one word after another on a blank page. Maybe my hand will be moved by the same force that gives flight to the bird.
I could submit a blank page to the Sierra Sun as my column for the week. What a symbolic and novel idea: Nothing but my picture, name and the words Grasshopper Soup presiding over a big blank space, saying absolutely nothing or, perhaps, everything.
Original inspirations like that remind me of a simple pastime my dad introduced me to in his backyard. Joined occasionally by myself and other worthy students of nature’s wonder and miracles, dad loves to sit in the shade with a Sioux City Sarsaparilla to watch a beach ball float ” by life’s great cosmic design ” around his swimming pool. Dad is 81.
This absolutely amazes him. The ball has been in the water for several years. The fluctuations of hot sun and freezing temperatures have not altered its air pressure. It has remained fully inflated, stable and firm, like the rock wall, or diving cliff, that borders the south side of the pool, making it look like a natural mountain pond, waterfall included.
Like kids, dad and I never tire of watching the ball slowly, lazily turn its blue, white, red, green and yellow patches willy nilly in the breeze. Sometimes it appears to become stuck in a corner or crag of rocks, only to be freed by the inevitable draft of wind, carried straight and true, like a mighty ship to a new and distant land on the other side of the pool.
Some people would be bored watching the ball. Not intelligent, imaginative people.
Occasionally, great revelations about life are given utterance upon our lips as we sit spellbound by the ball’s perpetual journey. Most of the time we laugh at ourselves, wondering what the hell we are doing. But we are aware that such an attitude is the height of arrogance. We know we are not too important for idle pleasures.
Watching the ball is a major event in our lives. I look forward to it every time I visit dad, and I will remember his childlike excitement and enthusiasm for it long after he is gone.
I dedicate this Easter week Grasshopper Soup to dad, and to the person who posted a comment on the Sierra Sun Web site about last week’s column on Al Gore trying to get into heaven. The comment was, “OK, that made me laugh, and I’m an Al Gore fan.”
That is what I call being an adult with real class, intellectual integrity and emotional maturity. America desperately needs people who can hear an opposing point of view without taking it personally and being vindictive. Why aren’t all adults like that?
That person’s good sense and good humor allowed him, or her, to see that my column was not about Al Gore and global warming as much as it was about pride, arrogance, greed and the importance of living simply and leading by example ” two more things seriously lacking in America.
As the fox said to the title character in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel, The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
We spend too much time in our brains. It’s good to get out every once in a while.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.