Today I peer inside my own eye. The doctor takes an x-ray to examine a benign choroidal nevus (a freckle deep inside my eye). I tell him that “choroidal nevus” sounds more like a garage band name than a medical term. I have him write the phrase down because I’m absolutely fascinated.
We look at my eye, and the doctor translates. He points out the little tributaries–little creeks–of vessels that flow to my bright yellow optic nerve. It’s an atlas representing a foreign land of color and texture I’ve never seen before. He travels back into my history–how my eye formed as a baby and how the shape of the cornea grew–as he points to the edges of this universe.
It’s my eye. I’ve missed my calling: I want to go to school to study the human eye.
I realize the mystery and wonder of the whole world, right down to each tiny vessel in the eye. At this very moment, I’m seeing. It’s sublime, unimaginable, and cause for the kind of euphoric celebration of an explorer who finally spies the New World. I want to learn more! Why would we ever exclaim, “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” when the whole world longs to be explored?
If anyone says, “I’m bored,” to me today, I’m going to point to my eye. There’s an eye to learn about right now.
Journal: What new thing can I learn about today?
My 10 year old neighbor has started a garden and pet care business. His flyer says he’s “responsible, caring, and dependable. . . since 1999.” This morning, I hired him. He said he could groom my cats, empty litter boxes, and play with the cats for exercise. He said he would charge me $2.50 for his work.
I’ve used this service before. At the beginning of the summer, he came to my house as a garden consultant and advised me about the placement of my beds and compost.
This morning, I paid him $5.00 because not only did he care for all the pets, but he decided he needed to vacuum the basement. And then, he wanted to help me make cranberry bread. He needed to wash his hands first, he told me, because every proper chef washes hands before he handles food.
He’s still here, occasionally checking his bread in the oven.
I told him he should run for President.
He said he probably will.
I told him I was going to blog about him today, and he wasn’t interested. He’s not into fame or recognition. Right now, he’s into dragging the yellow rope around the house to exercise my cats. He wants to make sure he fully earns his pay.
I hope he never loses whatever it is he has right now. It’s the kind of flair I want all the neighborhood kids to have. When I asked him why he’s starting a business, he said he has stuff he can do, and he can earn money and not be bored. He’s not watching TV or lounging around this summer, and he’s not exhausting his parents’ resources by begging for trips to Disney World or expensive summer camps. No, he’s going to run a business to help neighbors with their gardens and pets. I just love that.
It’s a big weekend in my town. It’s a big party weekend. This means I avoid campus and expect a really low attendance in my early classes on Monday. It’s always the same story: students act out this script of what it means to be a college student.
Last year, a man came to my office hours and asked me if I had any ideas for how he could stay out of trouble. He’d been arrested, he’d had several underage drinking citations, and his GPA had plummeted from a 4.0 to a 1.7. Feeling like he’d squandered the last four years of his life, he asked me what I did for fun that didn’t involve getting drunk. He wondered what a life looks like that doesn’t involve partying. As I talked about my own college years, he started to make a list for himself. He was writing a new script.
So, as a shout-out to my students who want a different script for their evening, I’m providing 50 ways to stay out of trouble. I once heard a speaker say that the definition of pleasure is: “having fun with no negative consequences.” Living with flair has something to do with experiencing pleasure in ways that don’t harm you or anybody else. Hence, my tried and true 50 ways to stay out of trouble.
1.Learn the moves to “Beat It” (or Thriller, or Single Ladies, or any dance)
2.Cook a gourmet meal with your friend. (Remember: good things happen with cutting boards)
3.Play improvizational games (Watch “Whose Line is it Anyway” or just play charades)
4.Organize your desk. (This will feel really good)
5.Do a movie marathon of 1980’s John Hughes movies. Or James Bond. Or Spielberg.
6.Visit every coffee shop downtown and evaluate each one. (I did this one Fall semester)
7.Plant something. (I’m doing this now)
8.Call your parents. (I should do this)
9.Call somebody from your childhood.
10.Read a bestselling novel. Then go talk to people about it. Book clubs are cool.
11.Go thrift store shopping.
12.Find neighborhood garage sales and buy unusual things.
13.Go to a local park and swing very high so you can jump out of the swing.
14.Go for a long walk. See if you can walk for an entire hour.
15.Search for new music on iTunes. Fall in love with a new band.
16.Get into a fascinating conversation with a stranger.
17.Go to church.
18.Plan some dreams for the next decade. Write out your personal mission statement.
19.Help somebody do something.
20.Watch people. Tell a story about their lives.
21.Learn a new sport.
22.Start a “flair” blog and tell me about it.
23.Get a great night’s sleep.
24.Go to a fancy grocery store and buy the most expensive chocolate just to try it.
25.Go to a pet store and hold all the new kittens and puppies.
26.Find a creek and sit by it.
27.Build your own kite and then fly it somewhere. You can google instructions.
28.Start a collection of some really obscure thing.
29.Learn to draw something.
30.Make a flip book comic.
31.Go in search of the world’s most comfortable slippers.
32.Learn a different language. (I want to learn Chinese this summer)
33.Go to a toy store and play with the toys.
34.Hang out at a bookstore and read for an hour.
35.Volunteer to help at a shelter or a community center.
36.Join a club.
37.Drive down a country road. (Rt. 550 changed my life)
38.Learn double dutch jump rope.
39.Do something that gets your heart rate up for 40 minutes and see how good you feel.
40.Practice being alone for an entire evening.
41.Donate stuff you don’t need.
42.Read a chapter in a textbook because you want to learn something, not because it’s on the test.
43.Reread a book from your childhood. (I reread To Kill A Mockingbird)
45.Make a scrap book.
46.Invent a game to play.
47.Create an ad campaign to motivate people to do something.
48.Teach somebody how to do something.
49.Watch an entire season of a show on DVD in one day. 24? Lost? The Office?
50.Make water your beverage selection for the whole weekend. Hydration can change your life.
So there. Here’s to living with flair.