blank'/> Mirth, Melancholy, and the Mundane: October 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Flocks of Wonder....

We are slowly approaching gift-giving season and so, much too early, Christmas ads are starting and people are beginning to watch the skies for snow.  It doesn’t help that I myself am in the midst of my family’s ‘birthday season’ – where we have at least one birthday per month from August to December (three in November).  This is not a blog about gift giving occasions, per se, but something that is known, I think, only to a few.  It is more about a different spirit of random giving that is perhaps unintended, but appreciated deeply nevertheless.  Whatever reason it happens, it is no doubt that the benefits are tenfold, though I’m not sure the giver has any idea what he has wrought.

Before I explain the above, I have to first build something of a context so it can be better understood by the uninitiated.  There is a student at the college where I work who is a relatively quiet and unassuming sort of fellow for the most part.  I’ve seen him come out of his shell a little bit when I’ve had him in some of my more specialized classes.  These are the classes about Alice and Harry and Frodo; classes that attract the misfits and the geeks.  I use those words with all the affection in the world – for I am a misfit myself.  It is no accident that one of my favorite characters in animated holiday specials is King Moon Racer, the winged lion who rules over the Island of Misfit toys.  These classes – and the kind of learner they attract – are a joy to teach because they have a presentation component wherein all the students invent and develop their own topics and spend the semester working on them so they are prepared to present the results to their classmates at the close of the course.  This is my favorite time because students like this one have the opportunity to show, sometimes rather awkwardly, the deep and creative minds that have often hidden behind silence for the bulk of the semester.  Again, all of this is only to give a picture of the way that I know this student and to drive home the beauty of the story I am going to tell of what he does outside the classroom.  You see, he likes to make paper cranes.

This in itself is a lovely little skill and something I cannot do, but what really amazes me is what he does after he makes them.  I, and others, have found them scattered around the school in the strangest of places, often made possible by the fact that he is rather tall.  He puts them atop vending machines, exit signs, doorframes, ceiling mounted speakers, clocks, and, basically, anything else that is up high and has a small ledge on it.  He has put them on books in the library stacks – though I’m told that it is only the Harry Potter books that have been craned, so to speak.  He has put them, nested on a piece of paper, in the bins outside my door.  Every time I think that he is no longer doing it, I find another one or hear about someone else finding one.  Those of us who are always half-looking feel blessed when our furtive and ever-hopeful glances are rewarded with a tiny crane in pink or blue, yellow or decorated.  I have amassed a small collection of them and it’s like seeing a rainbow or finding a four-leaf clover.  They never fail to make me happy.  My hummingbird friend also has several of them and loves them as much as I do.  When I told my mother about them, she asked if I would give her one.
Just the other day, my hummingbird friend smiled the cutest little giggling smile when I approached her at the copier.  When I tilted my head in question, she pointed to the exit sign above the nearby drinking fountain and said ‘look!’ with a voice full of delight and wonder.  I have much the same reaction and I was not the least bit surprised when she asked a student, but a moment later, to fetch the crane that was sitting on high, waiting.  I know that she added it to the growing collection she already has; I would have done the same had I seen it first.  That is the magic of the cranes – we collect them as if brownies or fairies came in the blink of an eye and left gifts for the worthy.

These cranes must not take him much time to make; in fact, I know they don’t because he used to make them in class when class discussion spun into intellectual excited chaos around him.  He must know I love them or he wouldn’t leave them around my door from time to time.  He must know that others gather them because every time he places one, I’m sure it doesn’t take long for them to be claimed by someone with a watchful eye and a thoughtful glance.  I wonder if he sees it as a game.  I wonder if he notes how long it takes each one to find a new home.  I’ve never asked him.  We have never spoken about the giving of the cranes.  Even though I know who does it, it feels like an almost mystical event to find one and every time I consider asking him about them, I come to the realization that I just don’t want to know.  Let him keep hiding them out in the open until he no longer roams our halls and, for the rest of us - let his magic continue lift our hearts and remind us what wonder is.