Sing, “EEE-AAAWWW!” [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Drive across the country with Kerri and one thing is certain to happen: the moment she sees a donkey, she bursts into a rousing chorus of “EEE-AAAWW-EEE-AAAWWW!” She loves donkeys. She wants one. Or two. “They’re like big dogs,” she assures me. I have my doubts but I confess to picking up her quirk. Now, if I spot a donkey before she does, I point and launch a festive “EEE-AAAWW!”

Bill and Linda have two donkeys. We arrived after dark so had to wait until morning to go to the barn for a donkey-confab. She wiggled all night with excitement. “Smack-dab material,” I thought. I’ll be drawing cartoon donkeys soon. I can’t wait to figure out how to make the Kerri-cartoon character wiggle in anticipation.

Linda knows of Kerri’s donkey-love so she had donkey treats ready. I stood back and watched. “This is my future,” I thought. “Can I have another?” Kerri asked and Linda smiled, handing over the plastic container of orange donkey-cookies. Those lucky donkeys hit the cookie lotto.

Donkey cookies. Who knew! There’s more amazing wonders in this world than any of us can comprehend. Stand outside of anyone’s world, peer in at their passions, and you’ll have to try hard not to drop your jaw in fascination. From inside their world, the quirk seems boringly normal. I try to remember that when people stand agog at something in my world that seems normal-to-boring. “What’s the big deal,” I think.

People are great at reducing the magic in their lives to seem insignificant. I’m a “people” so, like all people, am guilty of my own diminishment. Beware of the word, “normal.”

Bill and I bumped fists. We are brothers-in-quirk. While Kerri and Linda stuffed the donkeys with cookies, Bill and I talked about the-things-that-come-out-of-our-mouths that get us into trouble. We think they are obvious. Ordinary. But, the response to our commentary indicates otherwise. He just retired from a board position and, his peers, in their farewell speech, described him in two words, both beginning with the letter “o”: outspoken and opinionated. All laughed. “It’s true!” he said, “And I’m proud of that,” and added, “No one wants to be a rubber stamp.”

What a perfect summation. EEE-AAAWWW-EEE-AAAWWW. Donkey cookies! Magic-in-the-ordinary. No one wants to be a rubber stamp.

read Kerri’s blog post about DONKEYS!

Show Up

707. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” Neil Gaiman

The clichés are ubiquitous: fingerprints and snowflakes, each of us is unique in the universe. There will never be another like you and if you’ve ever looked through a telescope into the universe you will recognize how profound a recognition that is. The universe is vast and you are unique in it. You are vast.

The paradox of our uniqueness, of course, is that we want to fit in. As E.O. Wilson suggests, the strongest human impulse is to belong. The question becomes do you need to sacrifice something essential to fit into someone else’s idea or is bringing to life your unique perspective the very thing that will make you belong?

I recently heard a speech and the speaker was making a case for self-love. She spoke of the myriad of opposing opinions she’s heard and sometimes entertained about who she should be. Like most of us, she spent many years trying to conform herself to those conflicting ideas – other people’s ideas of who she should be. Aesop wrote a fable about that and the moral was clear: you will lose it all if you don’t listen to yourself. No one has the capacity to love you like yourself. When you come upon your idea of who and what you want to be, and strive for that, there is no conflict or sacrifice. You will fulfill it all when you listen to yourself. This, too, was the speaker’s conclusion.

To me, the shorthand is to orient your life according to what you bring to it and not according to what you get from it. Show up as you know yourself to be not as anyone expects you to be. Let yourself be seen as who you are: unique in all the universe.