My sister and fellow blogger, Bridget, clued me in to a wonderful site called Mama’s Losin’ It that offers lots of prompts. This is perfect for a night like this because I am a little low on inspiration and more than a little tired this evening to think of things like what to write.
The prompt I came across is:
Write a post that begins and ends with a merry-go-round.
When I was a little boy we would sometimes go to the park. That is, of course, unless Daddy was working late in the mines. Or it could have been my sister Bridget. She was always causing trouble in my life and, truthfully, in the community at large. From an early age she was chemically dependent. Her chemical of choice? Pixie stix. That and meth. None of this is true but enjoy the trip to Crazytown for a moment with me. Anyway, when we’d venture to the park, a magical place filled with no short abundance of broken dreams and an equal measure of broken glass, I would dart to my favorite attraction — the merry-go-round! You’ve never heard of this before? That’s because I’m pretty sure they’ve been outlawed. I’m not talking about a carousel with bouncing horsies on poles but one of those rough metal disks on an axis that had lead-painted pipes dividing it into segments. Three or four of us would climb on top and one of us would start the process of spinning this thing while running around it. After a few seconds, the runner would jump on (if he could manage) and everyone would get disgustingly dizzy. The typical end involved one person vomitting while the others simply flew off the merry-go-round at high speed. Bones were broken. Tears were shed. Blood was spilled. Tommy never made it out alive and all the while Bridget was off by the water fountain cooking powdered sugar on a spoon with a Bic lighter.
Yesterday, while teaching my Ecumenical Issues class I began to discuss the Hindu concept of Samsara. “Samsara, kids, is the idea of a circular cycle of rebirth and reincarnation.” As I stepped over to my whiteboard to illustrate this concept something began to twitch in my brain. I drew a circle and added several uni-directional arrows to it. “So you see, a man can live his life as a member of the Warrior caste. If he practices good dharma for his state of life…” I looked back at the board for a moment. “If he does what he’s supposed to do then he’ll come back as…” I couldn’t concentrate. “Um, you know what kids? Samsara is a merry-go-round. Not the horsie kind but the spinning death-wheel we used to have when I was a kid.” I looked out at the room. In unison the thirteen students in the room all looked back at me and nodded their heads. “Ahhhh. We get it now.” Really? That was all it took? So I tried another analogy. “Karma is like when that kid who took your lunch money when you were in first grade ends up bald as a cue ball and he’s only in high school!” This time their looks were a bit more disapproving. “Mr. H., that kid has leukemia now.” Oh. Never mind. Apparently cancer’s not funny anymore and apparently that kid is real. Who knew?
Ironically and not at all in a plot contrivance, when I returned home that afternoon my kids tackled me and asked me to play their new game with them. First, yes, they always tackle me when I come in the door. It’s one of the joys of fatherhood. Right up there with teaching my son to tie a tie and applying for a weapons permit when my daughter nears dating age. Second, I asked them “What’s your new game?” They took my hands and walked me to the middle of the room. “You do this,” said my son as he and my daughter locked arms while facing each other and started spinning around really fast. Holy cow, I thought, that looks just like a… merry-go-round! Oh how in the hell did you think I was going to end this one? A trip to the National Merry-go-round museum? Funny you should mention that because we actually did visit there a few years ago. It’s in Sandusky, OH in an old post-office. The only catch is that they actually are referring to the pole-dancing horsies. Go figure.