Don’t Forget the Cucumbers

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There once was a little girl with bright sparkling eyes and thick blond hair. Her bangs were the length of a cereal bowl and the very edges matched one that could hold a  big batch of spaghetti. She was energetic and creative. Oddly intense and very talkative.

One warm summer day, the little girl lay upside down on her bed, feet dancing in the air, and blonde hair swaying past her nose. Little brother was no where to be found and dad was at work. Mom hummed away at the kitchen sink doing what mothers do at the kitchen sink. In a burst of great imagination, she had a most brilliant thought; a truly entertaining suggestion; simply put, the best way to spend a warm afternoon in June, all on your own.

A scavenger hunt.

Filled with raw excitement, the little girl scurried through the house, darting between furniture, carefully selecting only the most precious items to hide away in the countless undiscovered crevices the wild outdoors. Sprinting back and forth, beads of sweat began to trickle down her summer skin as she delicately placed each treasure in a secure location. Diligently, she marked its position on a piece of plain paper with a pencil that lacked an eraser.

As any good hunter would do, she then prepared a bag for her journey. Only necessities were brought along; books, toys, jewelry, a few pens, a coat, and, of course, the map. Next, marching into the kitchen, she peered down into the sink next to mom. She needed a snack for this journey and mom was the keeper of the snacks.

With a sly eye, Mom handed the little girl a bag of cucumber slices. Eyes rolling, the little girl carefully held it open as mom sprinkled only a pinch of salt over the bright green slices; it’s waxy skin glistening in the eye of adventure.

There she stood, at the back door, with nothing but a bag on her back and the warm wind in her hair. She reached her hand around to feel the map tucked neatly away into the side packet. This was an adventure that would never be forgotten; an epic adventure of discovery despite it’s preconception. To a mere bystander, her mother in the kitchen window, to the neighbor dog staring aimlessly through the fence, this odd little girl was about to go on her own scavenger hunt, fully aware of the whereabouts of every single treasure. But, that didn’t matter. To the little girl, this was an entirely new adventure. This time, there would be no secrecy in hiding, but exclamatory joy in finding.

– | –

I’d give you one guess as to who you think the little girl is but I suspect you already know. I’ll save you an eye roll. Yes. It was me. Sometimes I tell this to remind my friends that there is good reason for how I got to be who I am today. Sometimes I tell it to remind myself of a time that was so much simpler. Either way, it’s one of my favorite memories.

Tonight I tell this story for more than it’s conversational charm.

Being alive involves knowing a lot of answers. It entails a great deal of back and forth and a lot of dancing feet. Most of the time, we think we don’t have a map and we’d like to believe that the next step will hold an ever elusive happiness and that sense of life we desire. The truth is, when I think about the six year old version of me, running around wondering where in the world I hid the spatula when I hid the spatula, munching on salty cucumber slices, I’m reminded that I’ve had the map all along and joy is right beneath my fingertips. It’s right here. It’s right now. It’s there in the darkness and the lightness of your vision. It’s wound up in the little things and the big things. Peace, stillness, and joy are not elusive. It’s right where we left them if only we’d go back to pick them up again.

Happy hunting friends.

Don’t forget the cucumbers.

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