Borrowing

Has it really been almost two weeks since I last posted? How did that happen?? Oh. Right. The Man We Call Dad came home so we’ve been spending a lot of time playing and enjoying his company and ignoring things like blogs and suddenly here we are and it’s the 23rd. Wait… what?? The 23rd already? Is it truly possible that Christmas is just two days away?

We’ve been busy around here between the last few days of school and several notable firsts (and a few special seconds and thirds, too).

The first ever public tuba performance at Friday’s assembly in front of almost 400 people (our K performed well despite the butterflies in his stomach the night before). The third ever ballet recital which included a first ever dance solo up on stage in front of a very healthy crowd. A first pottery making experience, which B thinks came out mostly okay except for the cup’s handle which might need a little help. A father-son date with The Man We Call Dad at the hockey game. A father-daughter date with The Man We Call Dad at the ballet. Another hockey game to watch, this time with friends. A cousin’s belated third birthday party, in which the hoop was finally gifted. Science experiments and slime-making galore with the help of this month’s installment of the Young Scientists Club. And of course a few rounds of Christmas parties, just to round out our oh-so-busy weekends, including one party for grownups only that meant the kids spent the evening with a fabulous babysitter who was willing to play the board game Life (which, if you’ve ever played it, takes forever, and is definitely not this Mama’s favourite board game). And then the fabulous babysitter sat patiently by B’s side and helped her figure out how to get further along in her Nancy Drew game on the computer.

In the middle of all this, of course there has been crafting, and science-ing (yes, I know I just made that up, and that experimenting is probably the word I should have chosen, but I like science-ing better), and of course, reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Lately, we’ve been reading a childhood classic: The Borrowers. B was interested right from the beginning, but K wasn’t so sure. He was willing to listen, but he often had his own book open on his lap and would only be half listening as he poured over pictures of human anatomy from a set of books on how the body works. But then… something happened. Somewhere between Pod scaling the drawing room curtain to borrow a doll’s teacup and Arriety’s first venture out of doors, K started listening. Really listening. The kind of listening that has you thinking and processing and imagining all at once. And when Arriety was “seen” by the Boy – the first human bean of Arriety’s small existence… sorry, human anatomy, you just couldn’t expect to compete with a human bean Boy who is argumentative and testy and names Arriety’s family habit of “borrowing” to be, in fact, stealing. Which Arriety disagrees with. I mean, what else are human bean’s for if not to borrow from? Oh no, human anatomy cannot compare to a healthy difference of opinion between a giant boy of nine and a tiny girl of fourteen.

Especially not when, after living in a house that has had its own battles with little creatures living in the walls or maybe between the floorboards, you start to wonder if it just might be possible that Borrowers are, well, perhaps not really a figment of the imagination after all. And you start looking for them, surreptitiously of course, around the edges of the family room. Along the baseboards of the hall. Around the corner of a doorway. And, after hearing how Pod climbs up to all the highest places — the very dangerous habit that got Pod “seen” by the Boy — along the edge of the curtains in every room you enter.

What is it about the human experience that we so love to imagine things? That we invent things so readily, and are so willing to fall into believing? Sometimes our believing holds for a moment and then is gone, like when we immerse ourselves in the imaginary world between the pages of a book, only to sigh in satisfaction as the last page closes. Sometimes, those beliefs last beyond the page, like when a young boy searches for the tiny people from the book with each step up the staircase on the way to bed. Sometimes, those beliefs last for a season of life, like Santa, or the tooth fairy. And this time of year, there is something extra fragile about us that opens our hearts towards beliefs that we might not even realize we hold until suddenly, there it is. We believe.

In Christ? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. That’s up to you. In God? Again, a personal faith and not one I’ll debate. In Santa? That one depends on your age. In world peace? In the possibility of world peace? That belief seems universal, despite millenia of evidence to the contrary. In the possibility that we ourselves can overcome a lack of willpower and take on a new year with new intentions and actually follow through?

It’s something about beginnings, I think. We like to borrow from our future, if only in our imaginations. Something about the human experience has led us to always look to the future rather than live in the present. To borrow the possibility that things will be the best version we can imagine them to be. Or, if you are a pessimist, the worst version. Some call it foresight, some call it planning, some call it dreaming… but really, aren’t we just borrowing an emotional charge from a future day in hopes of… well, what? Making today more exciting? Less scary? Those who borrow from the past, reliving old happenings rather than looking to the as yet unhappened, we often hold them in disdain, as if borrowing backwards is somehow less productive or less inspirational than borrowing forwards. Historians, who are after all just well-read backwards borrowers, are slightly more respected but only in the sense that we can learn something from the past and apply it to the future yet to come. Backwards borrowers who don’t apply their borrowing to the imagined future or, at bare minimum, the present… well, they just aren’t seen the same way. But a future-borrower? A dreamer? A planner? An entrepreneur who bets everything on the future turning out the way they imagine? They are the people we hold up as shining examples of what a life of richness and purpose could be.

And yet, I find myself inspired more by a young old boy of nine who, caught up in the moment, started looking for Borrowers under the staircase and along the hall. Who let himself be caught up in the now of his imagination, and who applied it to that very moment. Who even now keeps glancing surreptitiously into corners and under furniture as if he were doing the most ordinary thing. Is it borrowing from the future or from the past to open your mind to a possibility that probably could never be but just might maybe be here right now, right here, if only you could see it? Can you even call it borrowing when an idea takes root in your mind and sprouts curious little tendrils that wind around the world in such a way that you see it with new eyes?

What has your imagination borrowed lately?

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