Life Gift

The last few months my over-extended 12-year old has asked me repeatedly, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ It could be argued there is no meaning. We are simply born to exist, procreate then die.

Theologians would argue our purpose is to glorify and serve God. Others might say it is your journey. Follow the path and learn, enlightenment of the individual is life’s true meaning.

But I was recently at a gathering where the speaker introduced us to a quote by artist Pablo Picasso. An unlikely source, he is quoted as saying, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’

The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.

Pablo Picasso

I bonded with this philosophy right away; if not for the advancement of ourselves and the betterment of others, then what? My 12-year old wasn’t so easily convinced. When I presented it to him he shrugged and replied, ‘I think life is about more than painting.’

So I elaborated, what if your gift is to make music, music that inspires people, lifts them up and makes them happy? What if your gift is caring for other people, and you spend your life attending to the sick or elderly?

He thought for a few moments, leaving me with the words, ‘Something to think about.’

Indeed. It is actually a lot to think about. But the meaning of life is kind of like walking. And I use the term walking as a loose metaphor. It doesn’t matter the terrain upon which we tread or even the destination, we have no choice but to walk. If necessary, we are forced to walk, even during the worst of times and circumstances. Life will not allow you to simply stand idle. You can’t stand still at all.

So the meaning of life in those terms is by-the-by. Irrelevant. It could all be for nothing, unless we extend ourselves and give to the greater good. Make the unavoidable journey in some way worthwhile. I hazard to suggest that Mr Picasso hit that nail on the head. Perhaps that is the true meaning of life.

Blonde on!

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Little Birdie

“Ahhh,” I sighed stretching my arms wide. The Lord of the Manor and I had been sitting across the table from each other without speaking for a good fifteen minutes.

** His attention didn’t waver from his laptop.

“Wa-ahhhhhhh,” I sighed louder shifting from side-to-side in an even bigger stretch.

** Still nothing from across the table.

“Ba-caw,” I imitated a little bird softly.

** Nothing. Not even a flicker.

“Ba-caw-caw,” I increased the volume and waved my wings a touch.

** The Lord of the Manor sat transfixed by his screen. His eyelashes didn’t even flutter.

“Baaaa-look-up-here,” I tweeted louder, flapping harder.

** Still nothing.

“Look-up-here, look-up-here,” I hollered gesturing wildly and shaking my head.

** Without batting an eye or even cracking a smile the Lord of the Manor intoned utterly deadpan, “I know what you’re doing.”

“What am I doing?” I goaded him, trying not to laugh.

** “It’s not going to work,” he added, determinedly expressionless.

“Why not?” I demanded, grinning manically.

** Finally cracking a smile, he shook his head.“Dufus……”

Ah ha! Got him.

Yep, just another normal Sunday morning at our house.

Blonde on!

Stir-Fried

When the Lord of the Manor found me in the kitchen surrounded by raw ingredients he stopped dead in his tracks. “Are you doing something scary?” He asked, appraising the scene from a notably safe distance.

I looked at him over the top of the recipe. “Maybe.” Then squaring my shoulders, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

He took one large step back. “Do you need help?”

If his back tracking wasn’t obvious enough, his tone left me in no doubt he wanted nothing to do with this. But where’s the fun in that?

“Yes,” I replied sensing a rare opportunity, “I do need your help.” If this escapade ended in hell and high water his assistance would assign us both equal blame.

His voice disappearing with fear, “What do you need me to do?”

“We’re going to stir fry this chicken,” I declared. “Using your jet burner.”

“Okay……” he drawled, a slow smile replacing his hesitation, a wary excitement filling his eyes. The jet burner makes a very big flame. It could literally launch a rocket. A big boy toy.

“Slice chicken, coat in flour, fry then add sauce,” I read. “Simple!”

I forgave his derisive snort. No. No… it was totally justified. Simple and I do not co-exist in the kitchen – EVER!

I can over-whip meringue, burn shortbread, bake flat cakes and generally stuff-up the most basic recipes. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve rumbled with the Kenwood, come to blows with the rolling pin and hurled the wooden spoon, but it’s a lot. Baking is by no means my favourite pastime.

Now, I tried my best to stuff this up, dear reader, I really did. There’s nothing funny about success, but the jet burner brought the wok up to an incredibly high temp and the chicken was fried to perfection within seconds; tender and juicy. I didn’t set off the smoke alarm – a usual sign I’m stir-frying – not once. The kids didn’t even complain when I set their dinner down in front of them.

“Why do you look so glum?” The Lord of the Manor asked. “Dinner was delicious.”

“That’s the problem,” I muttered darkly. “How am I going to finish my blog now? And worse, this completely ruins my reputation for being useless in the kitchen.”

“There. There,” he soothed. “You’ll always be useless in the kitchen to me.”

Perfect.

Blonde on!

Reality Check

I was sitting on the beach with my parents, watching my kids swimming and playing; remembering when I was the child and they had to watch me, when three girls sashayed down the sand wearing shorter than short Daisy Dukes and skimpy bikini tops, not a breath over eighteen.

They dipped pink coloured toenails into the waves and squealed as young girls do. Deciding against a swim, they were sashaying back up the beach when one suddenly stopped and released a hysterical, high-pitched shriek of alarm.

Staring with pained expression at the top of her thigh, she studied her leg carefully before emitting a slow sigh of relief.

‘Oh my God, for a moment I thought I had a stretch mark,’ she gasped then laughed breezily.

Satisfied it was merely shadow, she continued to swing her pert, perfect little buttocks back up the sand.

I turned to my parents seated in chairs behind me and shrieked, ‘Oh my God, for a moment I thought I was a buxom, middle-aged married woman with kids on the downhill run to forty…..

…..Oh wait….. Damn!’

Blonde on!

She’s a Lovely Boy

Tyler Croped

How many choices can an 8-year old really make every day – an apple over a banana, a blue t-shirt instead of red. But essentially, all decisions are made for them.

So when my 8-year old son decided to grow his hair long, it still fell back on me. Would I allow it or not? His conviction was strong, and because I couldn’t see the harm, we decided not to overrule his personal freedom and let him grow his hair.

It now reaches well below is shoulders and is causing lots of confusion. Strangers refer to him as ‘she’ and comment on his being ‘a lovely girl’. Ignoring his obvious ‘boy section’ clothing, people react only to the most obvious visual cue – his long hair – and decide, therefore, he must be a girl.

We take no offence, because at his age it is impossible to tell, and we no longer correct them, because it really doesn’t matter. But we had to learn to accept the confusion and common mistake about his gender with good grace.

To be clear, he has no gender confusion. He knows he’s a boy and doesn’t want to be anything else. So when kids at school comment and say, ‘you look like a girl,’ he simply smiles and shrugs, because he doesn’t care. He just loves having long hair.

Then this happened. One of his teachers threatened to tie back his hair if he didn’t behave in class. That ruffled my feathers. Did she threaten the female class members with the same punishment? Were the shorthaired people threatened with a scarlet letter pinned to their chest if they misbehaved? I doubt it…. but let it slide.

Then waited (somewhat anxiously) for the letter from school formally asking us to have his hair cut, and considered in advance how would I react to their request. Did they even have the right to ask? Thankfully, the note didn’t come and I breathed a sigh of relief.

….. But for the record, if we had been asked to cut his hair, I would have refused.

There is no reason why an 8-year old boy can’t wear his hair long, and it shouldn’t – doesn’t – mean anything other than the child has been allowed to make a bold, personal decision for himself.

Blonde on!