Saturday, February 28, 2009

Imagine me and you, I do...

I took Jada for a walk today.

As soon as I'm up in the morning she starts to get excited. She jumps around and wags her tail, and can hardly contain herself once she sees me going for my shoes. She's a good dog. She will calm herself enough to sit while I put the leash on, and walks very well, without excessive pulling.

Like most days, once we get to the meadow, Jada goes off leash. And what happens next is what prompted this blog entry. Once off leash, in the meadow, she's a different dog. She is suddenly transformed. She saunters in the tall grass with a confidence that I don't see anywhere else. She jumps and bounds through brush, and occasionally she points. When we are on the trail, it's not uncommon for her to rustle out pheasants and turkeys. She is both primitive and focused at the same time.

Today as I watched this transformation in Jada, I thought of my son at an earlier stage. I remembered my now surly teenager, playing outside as a preschooler, running across the yard with a stick in his hand. And I could see it in his face, that the stick captured his imagination. It held endless possibilities. He had a tool, and could imagine himself in a new way because of it.

Then I began to think of how many times and ways we re-imagine ourselves. When we dress for the day, who do we become? Does a single item or accessory capture our imagination and transform us for the day? And what about long term transformations? Do these simply become layers upon layers that make up who we are?

So I asked myself, how many ways have I imagined myself, and to what did I transform? I've been a musician, an artist, a wife, a soldier, a mother, a student, a politico, a writer and an innovator. Each one of these identities contributed to the next, and it can seemingly go on forever. This I think is what Shakespeare meant when he wrote,

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

(As You Like It, Act II, Sc VII)

I have a theory that we are our truest selves around the age of ten. When ever I experience a difficult individual, I always imagine them at that age on the playground. Which kid were they? Were they the kid that intimidated others by being bossy? Or, were they constantly overcompensating to mask insecurity? Some people, you can tell that they were the kids who moved easily between groups. And others, just as they do in adulthood, thrived on cliques.

After a jaunt in the meadow and through the forest, Jada and I came back to the street, where she obediently sat while I reattached her leash. And, as we went from grass to sidewalk, this whirl of thoughts ceased. Back in a world of houses, yards and streets I thought of all the things I would have to do today and wondered what will capture my imagination next.

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