Tuesday, November 18, 2003



As you rollercoaster up and down along this fascinating adventure of years we call a life, there are some adjustments that involve nothing more than simply getting out of the way of the big old fait accompli rolling right at you like it's a big stone ball and you're Indiana Jones. To take one small but deep recent example, every time I turn the corner on the stair landing to go upstairs I'm still not used to seeing the raccoon hugging the bannister with his (her?) big tail hanging down.

Now I know that many of you alert and finely discerning readers will note the considerable semanticorhetorical disparity between "Big Stone Ball" and "raccoon hugging the bannister"; that is my admittedly awkward attempt to represent the breadth and bizarrity of the class of adjustments to which I refer. To be more precise yet general, you've got kids. You love them. They grow up in about an hour and move away, start families of their own in the major human ongoing.

Thereafter time goes collectively faster for you, but particularly slower. Then one day some time after the kids have moved out you're clearing the old shelves upstairs, you open one of the largish boxes you find there and suddenly behold some of the stuffed toys the kids used to love, many of which toys you so carefully purchased (would she prefer this rabbit with glasses, he this goggle-eyed penguin?) after much consideration all those--yes, in fact, decades ago now-- and here comes the Big Stone Ball rolling toward you and you're wearing a fedora.

That happened to me the other day for the first time, the stuffed-animals-in-the-box scenario. There in the box as I stood on the chair was suddenly Officer Dawg in all his glory, with his badge and blue police hat still on, though a bit squashed, there was the cinnamon teddy bear that had caused such commotion one Christmas morning 20 years ago, there was the Nekobasu (cat bus) from Tottoro, with the little red-eyed gray mice for running lights, there was the baby raccoon with the grabby arms that held onto things, and don't look at me that way, I just couldn't put them back in that box; they deserved better, and so did I.

What else could I do but put the nekobasu beside the computer where every once in a while I can look over and see those bright golden eyes and that insanely optimistic smile and remember stuff that happened back then, and cinnamon bear had to go beside the door to the bedroom for when the grandkids visit, and who could deny Officer Dawg the right to resume his official position looking out of the big bowl at the top of the stairs for a laugh at bedtime, and raccoon of course had to hold on to the bannister sliding down head first as always, so that every time I go upstairs I am freshly and startlingly reminded of how near I really am to what can sometimes seem so far away.

That's what the Big Stone Ball is for.

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