I get an email every day from a place called The Daily Atom. I don’t remember ever signing up, but I get it and it’s my favorite thing in my inbox every day. All it is, is a science fact of the day. Today’s science fact was, “Kangaroos are the tallest marsupials on Earth. Most grow to be over 6 feet tall.” And then there’s a very standard picture of a kangaroo.
I can’t draw things to save my life. Even my stick figures are tricky to discern. But when I saw that kangaroo picture this morning, something in my brain thought, “that would be an easy picture to copy.” So, I tried it.
There was nothing easy about it. For me, at least. I drew and erased. Drew and erased some more. I tried to smudge the pencil lines with my finger to soften it up. I don’t think it worked very well but, in the end, I’m actually pretty proud of my rendering. Even if he does look a little like Daily Atom kangaroo’s chubby, card-playing cousin.
A Thing I Do
This is a thing I do. I get a notion that something will be easy, so I try it. Like those great and “easy” pictures of recipes where the actual recipe tends to look nothing like the picture. I try anyway. Most times, I am left with a good and healthy respect for anyone who can do the, in fact, not easy thing, (recipe or otherwise) and actually still make it look easy.
I did this with a head stand recently. It had probably been a couple decades since my last head stand attempt and I now remember why. I got one leg straight up in the air. The other leg, not so much. My hands were confused about their placement for balancing. And my skull literally felt like it was flattening. It wasn’t graceful. Anyone who can do an effortless head stand possesses a skill I will never master again. And I applaud them! There’s a good chance though, in the next ten years, I might give it another try. Side note: As a younger human, my head stands were flawless. Kudos to that kid.
Older Me. Younger Me. A Violin.
In high school, I sat First Chair Violin in our little orchestra. I was playing my violin every day back then. I could make some pretty beautiful sounds come out of it. When my boy, Kipper, was about 5, he was taking Suzuki violin lessons. I was his home teacher, and so, once again, I was playing my violin almost every day. Mostly now, my violin sits very quietly in the corner of my office.
These days, especially around the holidays, I have the idea to pick up my violin. This happens once a year or so. I tune it. I play some scales for my fingers to get reacquainted with their old stomping grounds. And then I’ll play a few rounds of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” In years passed I would also dig into my music folder from school and play through some of those pieces as well. Mozart. Vivaldi.
A few days ago, when I pulled my violin out, I was shocked at how difficult it was for my shoulders, hands and fingers. My cancer treatments really did a number on my body, so I expected a little restriction. But I could hardly hold my instrument up long enough to get through the scales. And my fingers weren’t reconnecting in their proper, in-tune spaces, like they have in the past. Boo.
This isn’t something I can just pick up once a year anymore if I want to continue to play. And yet it was this same body and mind, well, the younger version, that could play through piece after piece, in tune, for hours.
Growing Into The Rest Of My Life
Sometimes it makes me sad when I learn that I can no longer do things I think I should be able to do. It’s a definite check-in time with myself. As I’m aging, how do I want to move forward? The questions and answers at this point can get overwhelming. There is a big-picture, short answer too though. I want to grow into the rest of my life with a sense of humor and some good old-fashioned determination.
So, I may never be able to stick a head stand again. There’s no reason for me not to try. Plus, it’s funny. I get a good laugh at myself. And, I may bring myself to my violin more regularly. This would mean being patient and gentle with my body, as well as challenging my mind to relearn the skill of playing. I would do these things for beauty, and levity too.
On Drawing Kangaroos
Also, if you know how to draw a kangaroo, or don’t, but want to try, I would love to see what you’ve got! And there’s nothing but solidarity here for you!
If you love my rendering of Daily Atom Kangaroo and want to share your own, or if you can laugh at yourself, or you can’t, or if you love the idea of living with beauty and levity, let’s be friends~