A friend of mine is making a movie and needs some origami cranes. Lots of them. So, I promised to make some on my breaks at work. I've never done any origami before, but how hard could it be, right?
Since there was no stipulation about size or type of paper for my friend's project, I cut up some old catalogs into almost-perfect squares, then...to the interwebs!
I tried out several tutorials, trying to understand what corner they meant for me to fold up, and turning the thing the wrong way, and tearing what would become a torn crane beak, until I discovered the wikiHow video tutorial. It featured 10-second videos of each step, which were much more clear. I was following along and doing sort of okay, folding and unfolding until I had worked it into some kind of...shape...at step 14. Then:
Seriously? Undo that which cost me a fifteen-minute struggle?
It turns out, all nine of those first folds (that's by my count, which I admit could be faulty) are necessary even though they will be undone. In fact, they need to be undone to fulfill their purpose. They would come into play later, in a way that this rookie origamist could have no way of predicting.
Of course, life does not give us a wikiHow tutorial. But we do sometimes see the creases we make in the square paper of life, whether tentative, shrewd, or imprudent, being undone, sometimes by our own hand. If we assume those steps are not wasted, but rather are something that we might need later, it might help us to maintain the energy and enthusiasm we need to keep taking steps. If we shake our fists at life, or at ourselves, maybe we just get nothing but jaded and bogged down.
Bottom line: the process of folding, unfolding, accidentally tearing, and a negligible amount of cursing, was well worth my time and energy. I got a useful metaphor out of it, as well as three imperfect cranes for my friend's movie! (I'm not done, JC - more cranes are on their way to you, on their catawampus wings.)
PS According to Wikipedia, car airbags, stent implants, and solar panel arrays for satellites are all technological advances that have come from insights gained through paper folding. よんやよんや (Hurray!)
My parents-in-law just moved from a three-bedroom house into a two-bedroom apartment.
This move has been all the things that moving always is: logistically challenging, emotionally and physically exhausting, and overall, an enormous exercise in patience, each with the other and with themselves, as important details were forgotten, mixed up, remembered just in time, and let go of.
In addition, this lovely couple had not moved in fifty years. Every aspect of this move seemed somewhat foreign to them. They didn't remember how long everything would take. They didn't realize they had so much stuff. At one point, they seemed to question their decision to move, based upon how much work it all was; as if the work and challenge were a sign of a mistake. On the settling in side, they go back and forth between "everything's fine," and "we will never be settled."
It is hard enough to have to touch every single object you own and put it in a box to transport to another location, or to watch as someone else packs up your things. Every item has a story, a person, an event, a holiday, a feeling attached to it. But add to that the deciding of each object you own: does it go in that box and on to the new home or not? Each item has to state its case, and whether or not you're in the mood to remember the Christmas the family spent visiting an ailing aunt, you will be taken down that road, as you pick up the crystal she gave you, or the travel coffee mug you used on the way there, or the nursing home pen you inadvertently brought home with you on what turned out to be the last day you would see her. It doesn't have to be an expensive piece of art or a family heirloom. Throughout the tearful process of clearing out my Mom's house after she passed away, the item that laid me out the most was the piece of cardboard she had grabbed in a hurry so she could write: "I'll be home around 4. Wait for me! I'll be hungry!"
The house itself is, of course, another goodbye. It holds details of your life that you don't realize it knows. Until you get up in the sleepy hours and head down the hallway for the bathroom in your new home, you won't realize just how well you knew each other. The familiar creaks. The quality of the afternoon light in the different seasons. How much echo is in the bedroom, how hard you have to pull the sliding glass door to close it. When we choose our homes, we imagine what we'll do, who will visit, how we'll accommodate book club, which room is right for the baby. It's like we pre-program memories, or memory receivers, into the house. It's no wonder when we leave, we discover that it worked - the plans and dreams are there, in different ways than we imagined, perhaps, but there they are. Then the process begins for the new place, with whatever new life situations we have to plan for.
"And you know I come here often and park across the street from my home…
The big old avocado tree is kicking up the walk
The dreams we shared, the plans we made
If these old limbs could talk
They're holding my first kiss there, the time I ran away from my home…
And through the window no familiar face
The world's a stranger but God I know this place"
from I Am Home (Debra Davis, from the album Angels in the Attic)
This one goes deep.
If you haven't played the ubiquitous game of moving various brightly coloured dots around, making them wipe out lines and rows and create other, more powerful dots, and eventually completing the tasks and advancing to the next level, you are missing out. It's fun and a great time-passer, but oh, it's so much more. Hidden within the delicious depths of Crunchy Castle, Caramel Cove, Pastille Pyramid, and Gingerbread Glade are life lessons, and traversing these landscapes is a workout in a match-three puzzle emotional gymnasium.
As you play this game, you will experience moments of euphoria and despair. You will breathe a sigh of relief, you will hold your breath, you will suddenly exclaim, "Why?!" in the middle of your doctor's quiet waiting room. You will go from wondering what the point of it all is, to a fist-pumping "Yes" and back again. You may even lose your entire game history after updating, thus experiencing an even higher level of zen training.*
Imagine you're trying to line up a row of five same-coloured candies so you can create the powerful nonpareil candy bomb. New candies are dropping into the puzzle with every move, creating new possibilities for matches you weren't expecting. Suddenly, one move sets off a chain reaction of glorious, but devastating candy explosions that destroy all the matches you were attempting to arrange. You feel very disappointed. In fact, that event will silently press "play" on the tape recorder in your mind (yes, I said tape recorder) and now you have all your memories from your life's "Best Laid Plans Collection" playing in the background.
Now imagine you've played an amazing game, with some extremely lucky matches and lots of exciting candy explosions. You've amassed 131,880 points and three stars. But, you have only one move left and nothing you do will cause the three goals to be met. So many points, stars, and unmet goals. How do you choose to react? Do you tell yourself at least this is the highest score you've reached in a long time? That it was fun anyway? That the goals are stupid and too hard? That it's the game's fault for not providing the right candies at the right time?
If you haven't thought those kinds of thoughts about life, I put it to you that you are a robot. Or possibly, a one-year old. (A one-year old who can read a blog.)
Observe the similarities:
There will be more on this topic, because the metaphors keep coming. (Don't even get me started on the chocolate that spreads and chokes out all possible moves.) But, in the meantime...
May the candy rise up to meet you.
May the Coconut Wheel be always at your back.
May the glow of your iPad always shine upon your face,
and Jelly Fish fall soft upon your jelly.
P.S. In computational complexity theory, Candy Crush Saga, along with many other similar match three games, was proven to be NP-hard. Thanks, Wikipedia!
* I tried everything to get it back. There is no one answering anguished emails at the Candy Crush offices. They should at least start their troubleshooting page with a randomly generated empathy statement.
I took a voiceover class a few years ago and one night the teacher told me, "You would book more jobs if you wore mascara."
Now, I have synthesthesia - the type where I experience music in colours. So, I'm pretty open to unusual interpretations of things. But I cannot believe that mascara is audible. Surely the connection between years of voiceover experience and my income is not a clump-free lash. (I use Cover Girl's "Clump Crusher" by Lashblast.)
As you may know, voiceover auditions are recorded, then sent to the client via the casting director and/or talent agent. "The client" includes the ad agency and the folks who work at the Acme Thing Company (or whatever product you're going to be representing if you book the job). Even if you record your audition at home, we're still talking about several people here, none of whom are actually going to see you. So how does it work, then? If one of them can hear the mascara, congrats - you're in? If no one can hear any mascara, or maybe not enough mascara, they might move on to consider your voice? Is this a case for driving over to your agent's office so someone will look at your face?
And is it only mascara, or are other types of make-up also a factor? A Max Factor, if you will.*
What about clothing? Could I wear two gorgeous coats of mascara and glide into the casting office wearing a duck suit, and still get the gig?
When I decided to go back to auditioning for on-camera work as well, I had to wear mascara to auditions. (And other make-up, and proper clothing. No duck suits.) In general, I had to put myself together in such a way that no one would think, "Wow. She is rumpled/tired looking/just about to wash her car." They're free to think, "I wouldn't wear those shoes with that skirt," or "Really? Yellow on that skin tone?" But, if I could help it at all, the overall impression would be one of "She cares." I don't think I was ever an embarrassment, but I was no fashion plate, either. It just wasn't very important to me to put much time or effort into my "look".
This is where it gets tricky, because I believe we should dress to express ourselves, how we feel, what we're comfortable in. I believe that that expression should not cost more than what we can afford. I believe that dressing to please someone else is an icky sentence.
But, let's go back to that "express ourselves" part. I want to express that:
I care about myself.
I take some time for myself, to care for myself.
Because I also care about you, I do not show up looking like a hot mess.
I wish I could tell you that I booked more voiceover jobs because of the mascara. I can't. There is simply no way to quantify how one books acting gigs. (Look for more on that topic later!)
But I can tell you that spending a little extra time to put myself together had a really nice effect on me. Kind of like when I put gas in the car the night before a day that starts extra early. That following morning, I feel like "YesterMe" did me a thoughtful favour. Or packing my own lunch. Opening my lunch bag hours later is a wee step back in time, and history shows that I looked out for myself.
Is there anything you wish you would do for yourself? Take time, give time, make lunch, wear that nice shirt you've been saving for a special occasion? I would not even draw the line at a duck suit.
P.S. According to Wikipedia, the urban legend that bat guano is one of the ingredients of mascara, is inaccurate. Whew! It's actually guanine, which is extracted from fish scales. Oh.