We were pulling away from a recent visit with the extended family, and we rolled down the window to say another goodbye to a nephew, standing outside our car. He leaned in to ask Jenn a quiet question:
“Jenn, do you think you’ll ever grow up?”
She smiled, laughed a little. And I think she and I were both thinking, “God, I hope not.”
I could outline a long discourse about the advantages of clinging to many of the virtues of childhood. The open mind. The sense of wonder. The playfulness. The crucial ignorance of the weight of the world that a Baby Atlas doesn’t know he’ll never be able to carry.
But really it’s best summed up by this: We don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t allow us to draw each other stupid birthday cards and wrap our gifts — our alleged gifts — in the funny papers.
There’s an artist I really dig, name of William Schaff, who likes to send — and receive, I hope — letters whose envelopes are adorned with detailed artwork that is all built around whatever stamp that’s stuck in the corner. You can see lots of examples on his Flickr page, but here’s a few choice ones. That ideal speaks to Jenn and me. If you’re going to send a letter to someone, and I mean a real person, and not your Cox cable bill, then why not make it a little special.
It goes back to that whole “more creative living” part of The Dew Abides’ mantra.
That nephew who asked Jenn about growing up may not get it. But his mom and dad do, I think. I mean, not that they’re wrapping their actual gifts in Peanuts reruns or anything (although they might). But they invariably have put a lot of thought into the presents they’ve given to me, even when they might seem stupid to them. They’ve given me a vintage lunchbox for a small collection of lunchboxes I have. (My pride and joy of this collection is a “Crocodile Hunter” lunchbox.) And last Christmas, they gave me a woodburning tool. It’s sort of like a soldering iron, only with a variable heat dial with effectively just three settings:
- Melt Soft Metal, If You’re Patient
- Spontaneous Human Combustion
- White Dwarf Sun
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret about me now. It’s something I’ve tried to keep carefully hidden.
I like to build things out of salvaged wood pallets.
And this gives me a lot of blank canvases on which, if I had an implement to apply heat to said canvases, I could mark up in various meaningful ways.
I could, for instance, throw a slight nod back the high school days when I drew U2 and Van Halen logos on my school binders by emblazoning the logo for punk rockers Titus Andronicus on my newly crafted guitar stand:
Or, being as I’m lucky enough to have tenants who deliver rent checks to me* in Schaff-approved envelopes like this…
… I can create a drop-box for those checks that looks like this:
Hey, it’s not for everyone. But for us, spitting out little bites of creativity in unexpected places feels good. And it’s better than being bored.
* We also have a theory that our tenant so adorns these envelopes to actually make us not want to open them, thus never cashing the rent check. It nearly works. Every. Time.