Archive for November 2002

Chalk Zone lifts my spirits

November 28, 2002

The other day, I saw a cartoon on Nickelodeon that I really liked. It’s called “Chalk Zone.” It’s about an aspiring young (9-10 yrs old) artist named Rudy. The only other person that understands his love for art is a nerdy girl named Silvia Sanchez. Rudy finds magic chalk that teleports him to a world entirely made of chalk art (with a hero of his own creation named Snap). There, everything he draws with the magic chalk becomes real, and he and Snap go on adventures saving all the chalk people and themselves. The short sketch the cartoon is based on won an Annie Award a few years ago. What I really like about this cartoon is its encouragement for creative kids. It shows that imagination is cool, as “Doug” did a few years back. When I was younger, I used to create worlds for myself in my notebooks, just like the ones in my video games (though mine weren’t entirely original, heh). All the other kids I knew thought it was kind of strange, but I thought it was awesome, and so did my friend Brian (who moved to Michigan). Brian and I would imagine ourselves in RPGs and play for hours and hours.

I miss that world. “Growing out of it” in junior high really was a mistake; I’d love to get back to it. I’m happy that there are still cartoons like “Chalk Zone” that encourage it. People don’t talk about imagination once you reach high school, but it’s good to know that it’s still alive and well somewhere.

The Door

November 12, 2002

“I’m alive,” says the boy. “Sure I am. I’m happy with things as they are. Life’s just thin at the edges. It’ll work out.”

Still she stares. Still she whimpers, this girl, this china-doll woman with autumn eyes and winter hair. She sits perched on the stool, across the table from him yet still a thousand miles away.

“I’m sorry about this. Really.”

Up and under comes the boy, his knife twisting into her ribcage and his face as innocent as ever, totally naive, blissfully unaware. Surely no hearts are broken on this night. November 22nd is for lovers.

Still she wants, still she fears, she hopes. He must know what’s going on here, how much she’s wanted him all these years yet lived, twisting in the wind and wrung around the Silent One’s neck…

“You never really liked me until fairly recently, right?”

Out. Out comes the heart.

“How much do you know me, James John?”

“I…” he sweats, he wonders. Perhaps she’s not so cheery.

“Tell me. If the perfect person walked up to you tomorrow, would you fall for her?”

He waits.

He has no answer to this question. It’s a trap, a game, isn’t it? She does believe me?

Answer.

“I guess I would.”

“I knew it,” says she. “Now let me cry.”

Now the boy sits alone. He pushes the ice back and forth in his glass with a straw. At least I can still handle the ice, says he. It’s the women…the women are the two weeks’ milk. Warm a bit, sour a bit…but all milk, all nourishment, all life.

“I wonder.”

He looks at the empty space. It is a rude companion itself. It is the loudest woman ever to sit in front of him.

“I would give myself to the ideal woman, yet…I feel like I turned her down just five minutes ago.”

No pain, though, right? The door is closed, yet light crawls in through the crack and promises everything. The joy, the sorrow, the pain, all in one honest view.

He stares at this light. He wonders at his own room. “I can’t remember why I’m in here anymore,” says he. “Was it a game of hide and seek? An escape? A rest?”

One shall pass.

He looks around his own room. A trove of hypothetical documents, a launching pad of new learning and a bed made uncertain by the mattress. The mattress is eight inches short. He outgrew it long ago.

What if there’s more?

“More?” wonders James. “What?”

“How do you know what this room looks like? It’s dark! There could be anything in there!”

Yet there is no sign, no crossguards, no guideposts in this world. I know there is light and heart and raw, painful emotion. The door is cold iron and the unusually static doorknob is not an obstacle, but a shot.

He stands at the door. Give me strength.

He opens it and walks in.

A Transcendentalist Views an Acorn

November 5, 2002

I have only been in the company of this acorn five minutes, yet I feel like I have known it forever. It is within me, without me, and coursing through my veins. It is a microcosm of my existence.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must leave home. We do not live but one life; rather we have lifetimes upon lifetimes to live, to grow, to learn. We spend our early years suckling from our mothers’ teats. We drink our life and our very existence from them. It is a comfortable, secure life, but we are always, always wishing for more. We feel that there must be more to this life than hanging in the breeze, and so our bonds to our parents grow weaker and weaker until, finally, we cut our safety line and plunge into the world around us.

The fall is not an easy one, for certain. This acorn has a hard shell because it needs it. This John, this Jonathan, is trampled and kicked around by the higher authorities from the day it lands in the world. Still it perseveres; it hangs on to its life because that’s all it has, and that’s all it can do. Its rough bark layering is incomplete, as is the case with this acorn, but it is not dead yet; nor are we.

Truly, the acorn is a miracle of self-reliance. It has no friends, no guardians; it left its mother tree long ago, and its brothers and sisters are just as immobile as it is. The acorn has itself to rely on and nothing more. Its shell is its shield.

Now I stare at this acorn, and I truly marvel at the beauty of it. This, like many others, could one day become a tall, strong, and beautiful tree. This acorn will embed itself in the ground, and slowly but surely it will grow. It will feed off the sustenance it has inside itself, and it will use this strength to make roots and drink rain, the cup of life. It will transcend the soil and rise above the squirrels and the children that made a mockery of it for so long. It will become a great tree, a king of the forest. Those animals which once abused it and ate it will make it their home. It will provide shade to children, to children’s children, and to a multitude of generations afterward. It will achieve harmony with the world around it, this same world that is a vital part of you and I. Eventually, it will create acorns of its own and thus continue the eternal cycle of life.

This acorn is you, and this acorn is I. It is the magic and the splendor of life, yet it fits within the palm of my hand. Truly there can be no more beautiful metaphor for life than the splendor of this little acorn.