Monday, October 24, 2011

I Do Believe in Kangaroos in New Hampshire

I can't stand cynicism.

While I have had moments of being bitter and cynical myself, I still can't stand it.  There is so much in the world that is noble and fine, interesting and thought-provoking, funny and even a little bit magical.

I got thinking about this today on the way home from picking Belle up.

As usual, she was gabbing away a mile a minute (and nope, I have no idea where she gets that from :-p).  She plowed through what she did at school today (drew an illustration for the children's book adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera that she read in music class), her proposed attire for tomorrow (it's red white and blue day ... she wants to wear a sundress ... sigh), and why the tortilla chips at her afterschool program are superior to the ones we have at home before she got down to the real business at hand.

Halloween, of course.

She's going trick or treating with her friend on the next street over.  Addie and her best friend are taking the little girls door to door as a sort of farewell to another childhood ritual, and Belle started telling me how relieved she is that "the big girls" are coming since they have to walk on a path where there might be wild animals.

Okay, I wasn't paying 100% attention until she got to the wild animals.

ME: Wild animals?  What sort of wild animals?
BELLE: You know, tigers, bears, lions.
ME: Oh my.
BELLE: You're so funny, Mommy.
ME: There aren't any lions or tigers here.
BELLE: There could be bears, though.
ME: True, I guess there could be.
BELLE: Probably not, though.
ME: Nope, probably not.
BELLE: Maybe gorillas.  Or toucans.  Or flying monkeys.
ME: You never know.
BELLE: Kangaroos? Wild turkeys? Boa constrictors?
ME: I love your vivid imagination, sweetheart.
BELLE: There really might be bears, though.
ME: Yes, baby, I know.

Believe it or not, the word that most resonated with me from this entire exchange was "kangaroo".

Yes, I'll explain myself ...

Last fall, I was driving Addie to school one morning when an animal jumped out in front of my car.  Addie and I separately thought it was a kangaroo, although neither one of us was willing to state it aloud for a couple of minutes.  It jumped on large legs, the size was right, and ... well, it just looked like a kangaroo.

I never really publicized my, "I saw a kangaroo on a highway in New Hampshire" experience because, really, who would believe it?  It seemed like an interesting little event to break up the monotony on that long-ago day, not something I would ever really talk about and certainly not an encounter that would impact my thought process a year later.

But when I heard "kangaroo" this afternoon, I remembered that day.  I remembered how hard Addie and I laughed over the absurdity of the situation.

And I remembered that damn kangaroo.

Here's the thing--I would not have said a year ago that I saw a kangaroo.  I might have said, "I think I might have seen a kangaroo, but ... it MUST have been something else.  I mean, a kangaroo in New Hampshire?  No way!", but I wouldn't have gone any further than that.

I would have doubted what I saw, tried to force my mind to bend into logical and rational ways that it doesn't naturally go in, and in general convinced myself that it must have been a rabbit, a dog, something other than a kangaroo.

Today, I am stating with certainty that I saw a kangaroo hopping across Route 101 a year ago.  I don't know how it got there.  I don't know why it decided to jump into my life for a matter of seconds.  I don't know where it ended up.

I do know, however, that the mindset allowing me to believe--and believe fully, at that--in the possibility of the impossible is a magical thing, a freeing feeling, a general impression that keeping your eyes and heart and mind ever open for the remarkable will be the only thing that allows the remarkable to come to you.

When something bizarre and, on the surface, utterly ridiculous comes up, consider giving yourself a moment of contemplation ...

You might be surprised what an existential experience it can be (even a year after the fact).