About once a week I volunteer at my kids’ school. Now, before you go thinking I’m being Super Mom, I’ll assure you that I most certainly am not. I do it because the kids crack me up. I’m NOT joking. Kids are awesome.
Anyway, the other day I noticed some…ahem…floaties in dixie cups sitting on the table of my boys’ Young Fives classroom.
“Owl pellets,” the teacher said. “It’s not poop.”
“It’s just owl barf.”
“Is that better?”
“The kids are going to pick through it to see what’s inside.” She smiled.
I may or may not have gagged a little.
The cuties sat at the table with tweezers and some pointy stick thingy. They proceeded to pick through the…ahem…vomit.
Then they glued the…erm…parts onto a paper plate.
The cool thing was that, as the kids dug through the…blerg…barf, they found what was inside. They found little treasure of equally gag inducing partially digested body parts. They found what was inside. And what was inside was quite fascinating. Especially to a group of 5 year olds.
As writers, that’s what we need to do. Swallow down the gag reflex and dig through the muck to find what’s inside. To find the real story.
Is this a stretch? Am I pulling out too much from this owl vomit? I really don’t think so.
See, we live in a culture that looks at the surface. Seldom do we dig through the mess to find what else is there. Because the mess, the muck, the mire is overwhelming. It’s, well, dirty and gross. What we find, though, when we take a few minutes to look deeper, is sometimes just as icky. Sometimes, what we find is a treasure. Sometimes we find what feeds the pain or hope. What fuels the ability to keep going despite the muck. Or what keeps the person in that state of bitterness and despair.
All around us are people who need a second look. Not so we can observe them. But so that we can understand them. Build compassion for them. And, dare I say, find a way to love them…even the people who make us uncomfortable or who have hurt us.
Every once in awhile, we’ll find that what lies beneath all the layers of muck is something that looks pretty doggone familiar.
And sometimes, we find that what we find draws us together.
(NOTE: The owl barf was sanitary…made so by the wonders of science! Also, my boys’ teacher is passionate about science and teaching kids to love it. She cracks me up…but she also is teaching me a whole lot!)
(ANOTHER NOTE: I just found out that my boys’ teacher won “Teacher of The Year” for all National Heritage Academy Schools. Pretty cool, huh?)
Tell me: Anything. I have no idea what to ask you. Maybe tell me about looking deeper into the life of someone and understanding them better. Or…what was the grossest thing you had to dissect in school?