Friday, February 14, 2014

The Magic of M&Ms

Kindergarten was a magical time for me, primarily because of an exceptional teacher, Elizabeth Hancock. School days at the age of four are a wonderful blending of coloring books, recess, nap time, and stories. Mrs. Hancock was especially good at stories. She created these glorious tales that were a continuing series over weeks of the school year. We would sit in a circle while she continued the story from the day before, each day more exciting than the next. Each student was pulled into the drama, as she transformed students into characters. The tales she spun were filled with adventure, suspense, and magic. Oh, and she did make them magical.

Any given day would have her saying lines such as, " . . . and then Paul climbed the tree to look over the wall" or " . . .and then Rita threw a rock at the witch." Before the story was finished, each student had played a part.

Often her stories would lead our group on a journey where we found ourselves faced with crossing a large body of water or with jumping over a tall impediment. In these moments, she would pass around a bowl of M&Ms or candy corn, instructing each of us to take one piece and wait for further instruction. Suddenly, she told us to eat the magic candy so we would be infused with mythical powers of flight or strength, allowing us to leap over whatever was standing in our way. We went on some of the most enchanting journeys while sitting around that throw rug in the corner of her classroom. With Mrs. Hancock, and with each other, we could do anything.

How often have I wished today's troubles could be magically surmountable as in Mrs. Hancock's stories. Then again, what experience has been gained by walking through the fire rather than circumventing it. Perhaps the greatest gift Mrs. Hancock gave me was imagination, and likely, the first sparks of my own style of storytelling. Even today, though, in the split second before I eat an M&M, I think "this will make me fly."

Monday is my birthday. From ages 0 to 21, I could not wait to get a year older. Since 21, I've been trying to turn back the calendar. The last few years have had me wanting to skip the day altogether. This year is proving to take a different turn. I view my 47th birthday as a badge of honor. I've earned my place in this world, earned my place in this life. I've walked through a few fires, got a little flame-kissed around the edges, but still able to laugh. That alone is worth celebrating. I have finally accepted my journey, come to peace with it, and am able to thank it for making me who I am. I am not anything now that I would have expected to be when I looked through adolescent eyes all those years ago, but I am here. And here is okay.

Next month I will begin an online course offered by Squam Art Workshops, called The Magic of Myth, where we will explore the epic journey of Psyche. I am hoping to stir up some of those magical, mythical stories inspired by Mrs. Hancock all those years ago. I still have a few journeys left in me, and I look forward to the ideas the class opens for me.

So, come on 47! I am ready for ya -- give me whatever ya got. I have my bag of magic candy, and I know how to use it.

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