Friday, 22 November 2013

Ball Pit Friends

When we moved into this house, there was a row of flower pots on an outside wall.  One or two were empty, but most had forlorn plants abandoned by the previous owners.  Scrofulous orchids, nibbled by slugs, some type of succulent and an amaryllis.  We brought them inside, pampered them, and in return, they bloomed. 

The empty pots stayed on the wall, waiting to be used.  Eventually speedwell seeded itself in those pots and we let it run wild.  In the autumn of that first year, the speedwell died back and an oxalis sprouted in one of the pots.  I brought it in and after sending four wobbly stems into the air, it died.  Bummer.  So the pot went back outside.

Next spring, more speedwell on the wall.  In the autumn, once again the oxalis came up, this time a bit more hardy and confident.  Now we have a regular thing, this oxalis and me, meeting up every autumn for its short lifespan.  It’s like we’re intermittent friends that we can each count on.   

That’s the story you hold in your left hand while I talk about what’s in my right hand. 

Early in the week, I read a blog by Amy Mackin that perfectly described when a typical rejection letter becomes a crossroads in the perception of oneself as a writer.  It’s a brutal experience for some (most?) of us.  Her blog made it so intimately real, it hurt to read. 

The blog incited all sorts of responses in me, none of which I shared with the author.  Not even when later in the week, someone thanked me for writing Amy’s blog.  The whole synchronicity of that exchange went zoooom over my head.

And then a friend of mine shared a link about SoulPancake’s ball pit friends.  Basically, a box of plastic balls with a sign over it that says, Take a Seat, Make a Friend.  On top of the small plastic balls are several larger ones with tasks written on them to help the friendship along:

Share three things on your bucket list.
Find one thing you have in common.
Describe the first time you fell in love.
Talk about someone who inspires you.
Talk about the experience that changed your life.
Create a secret handshake.

Those people in the ball pit were random, but they made friendship look so natural and easy.  Sort of like my oxalis that comes up every year and that I set on my window sill to watch grow.  How easy would it have been to’ve recycled the compost that first summer and planted something else in that pot?  To never have known there was something lovely in the dirt?  How easy for any of those people in the film to come across the ball pit, read the sign, and keep walking.  Like reading a blog that moved me and not commenting.  I’d missed a chance to create a secret handshake with someone. 

That’s the way of the virtual world.  What SoulPanCake’s video doesn’t show are the pairs who got into the box and didn’t hit it off.  That happens.  It’s all part of the risk.  But we should, from time to time, consider the moment that we’re in as the ball pit, take a seat and make a friend.  

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