Sunday, January 11, 2009

Be a perfect person in just 3 days

Did anyone else ever read that book when they were a kid?

The basic plot is this:
Boy feels bad about himself. Finds a self-help book called "Be a Perfect Person in just 3 Days." Follows the steps the book assigns--hilarity ensues, a la Judy Blume (though no toddlers consume turtles). Has to wear broccoli around his neck TO SCHOOL?! Every task has a lesson, of course: Don't care about what others think of you, etc, etc. Very after-school-special-y. But the kicker comes in the final chapter: he ends up sitting in a rocking chair drinking iced tea. And that's it. He wonders--um--what next? And the book, which I think is somewhat magical or at least very savvy about intermediate-grade kids' cognitive development, tells him: You're only perfect if you're not doing anything. So, to stay perfect, just sit in that chair with your iced tea.


In a lot of ways, I think I spend much of my life in the safe rocking chair. I let my desire for courtesy and kindness and safety and predictability outweigh my desire for justice and challenge and truth-telling.
For example: blogging (as it represents my desire to write publicly). I think about it--writing, that is--all the time. I constantly compose mini-essays in my head...I have pages of notes in my daybook for product reviews, responses to others' blogs, commentary on social issues, anecdotes about my life and my family...but something makes me balk when it comes to the publicness of posting it. Part of that is time, of course, everyone's bugaboo, but in some ways it's just the seeming safety of non-blogging. The desire not to put myself out there for critique. The knowledge that, if I put myself out there, someone will want to slap me down.

There isn't a goal or a resolution here, just a growing feeling--a feeling that I've got to get out of the chair, put on that broccoli necklace, and see what can happen.
After all, as my friend Jessica says to her choir students: "Make loud mistakes. It's the only way you get better."

1 comment:

Jody said...

I remember that book--I'd forgotten all about it. Wow. Gives you something to think about, doesn't it? Let's see where it takes us!