“We can waste our lives in that way, telling ourselves a story about what we’re doing instead of doing it.” — Koun Franz
Yesterday, we went to Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm in Hadley. My sister and I followed the kids’ navigation through rows of dead cornfields in the shape of a Dalí painting (later, I heard Aviva say, “Yeah, it was shaped like the Dalai Lama”).
After we found our way out–near the potato cannon!–we ordered lunch and sat at a picnic table with a woman and her little girl, who had soft, curly hair pulled back in a little ponytail, and a sweet, open face.
Come to think of it, it is very sad when you meet a child who doesn’t have a sweet, open face–we are born this way, ready to engage. And she was engaging. She grunted and twirled and held up three fingers when I asked how old she was. We chatted with the mom and ate sweet potato fries and watched our own kids figure out how to roll an enormous pumpkin into a Radio Flyer wagon.
When it was time to go, I said goodbye to the girl. She squished up her face and lifted one knee up in the air. I lifted a knee up, and said, “That’s how I say goodbye, too. Sometimes I use my left knee. Anyway, ‘bye,” I said, pumping my knee twice for good measure, a gesture she mirrored, smiling at me.
In that moment, I felt like a million dollars. I thought, “Hey! I should’ve been a preschool teacher!” I thought about Michael Franti, and the story he shared about talking to his wife after a show, or after her night shift as an ER nurse–how they tell each other about something from their day that made them feel significant, or maybe it was something that made someone else feel significant. Really, the two are the same.
And that was such a moment for me, discovering a wordless way of communicating with someone who reminded me of myself thirty-six years ago, playful, spontaneous, with a sweet and open face and a welcoming sense of humor.
Little girl at Mike’s Maze: You won’t remember me today, but I lift my knees one at a time to you. It means “Goodbye,” and I think it might also mean, “Thank you.”