Thank you for taking my class. I want to tell you that showing up is enough. Show up as often as you can and be here as present as you can be.
I’ve spent the past year working in a public library in the children’s room. I didn’t go to school to learn how to do this, so don’t worry. No matter what degree you get, you can still do whatever the hell you want.
I want to tell you about a magical bag. It’s the canvas bag I bring into every storytime I do at the library. The bag holds smaller bags and bundles of objects, props, and noise-makers. There are scarves, egg shakers, a barn full of stuffed farm animals, a parachute, felt bears, and laminated song lyrics. I hand various props out to the kids and parents to keep them engaged with the book we’re reading or to use while singing songs during our instrumental break between books. Toddlers live in a constant state of distraction (and arguably so do adults), so working with their energy flow is a fun challenge.
I never know what I will use in the bag which is why it is full of so much stuff. One day I forgot the egg shakers in the closet. Of course, that was the day a parent said, “Zack’s been asking me to do the egg shaker song at breakfast every morning.” And that was the day I ran back to the closet to get out the egg shakers.
At the end of the half hour, we’ve read somewhere between one and four books, danced, thrown things, someone’s probably cried, we’ve laughed, people have sprinted into and out of the room, and most definitely, one of us has attempted to eat something they shouldn’t. Next we do our craft. Everyone sits at the two tables to work on a creative project. All of them look and feel different. Often I have some grand idea of how these projects should look, and set my example on the wall. It’s interesting because the adults try to follow my example closely while the toddlers don’t give a flying shit. What could have been a tree becomes a bush, and sometimes a bird grows three wings and a second beak protruding from its stomach.
One time I read that whenever I’m really mad at someone, I should picture them as a child. How was their voice? Did they hug or smile? Of course they did. These images instead of the present ones you carry will distill all resentment or annoyance toward the person in their adult form.
I don’t know if this works. Maybe it’s an area for my future healing. I do believe though, that the more we can live in basic state of being, the better humans we can be. If we can live like children, nourishing simple joys and pleasures, then we can begin to remember exactly who we are, and stop worrying about some grand purpose we have imagined for ourselves. I hope that in this class we can make space to be like children. I can bring the magic bag, and you can bring yourself, your work, and your essential beating heart.