Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Lesson or Two From Alice

Just finished a week that was completely off the beaten path. I was born and raised in Georgia, so a little snow accumulation is quite a novelty here. I’ve wondered if folks in the northeast or the Rockies buy out all the bread and milk before each hint of snow. If so, the dairy farmers must love this time of year.

This storm proved to be unusual for our neck of the woods. We like a quick snow, then thawing and clear roads two days later. Not this time. The snow stayed well beyond its grace period, and worse, night time temps dipped into the teens and created a very beautiful, but hazardous sheet of thick ice everywhere, including the roads. We are not equipped with the means to clean roads and keep them that way; we sometimes go a few years between storms.

After the Sunday evening event, I had to get out on Wednesday and Thursday. I spent over five hours each day on the road. On Thursday I drove under an overpass, with no visible snow or ice on the road, and did a 360 spin, at 1PM. A moderate down hill that normally bores you became a white knuckle ride. Quite an eventful week for us southerners.

One evening I went to my bookshelf in the living room and looked over the books, hoping something would catch my attention. I was in the mood for something different, but I had no idea what.

I picked a book I have owned for many years, but haven’t read in a long time: “Alice in Wonderland.” Probably a sixties edition or earlier, hardback. Sitting between my childhood copies of “Big Red” and “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates.” For some reason it seemed to fit the mood of the week, so I sat down and read it.

Stories like this just read differently when we get a little older and have a few life experiences under our belt. Alice had an interesting journey and imagination for sure. The thought that stuck with me was the reoccurring theme of her trying to recite a story or rhyme, but the words came out differently in Wonderland than she expected them to or as she remembered them. Is this what environment does? Do we say it different, or does the interpretation change when the surroundings are different?

Interesting how her ideals that were ground into her came out for a minute when she tried to recite for the lobster. You just can’t talk low country boil around the main course or they’ll move on. Or telling the swimming mouse about her dear cat back home that keeps the house rid of rats. Sounds like we just don’t fit too well into a bevy of surroundings. And, changing sizes every time we come into a new environment is pretty inconvenient, especially when you get stuck. You are what you are; we can only fake it for so long.

Sometimes we’re thrust into unfamiliar territory however, and we have to make some adjustments, even if it’s temporary. Starting a new job, we have to find out what the office politics are like, find out what’s okay and what isn’t. The words we recited on the old job may not come out the same on the new one. It’s necessary and helps make a well rounded person, up to a point. Just remember who you are.

So, now I’ve finished up my week off the beaten path. Time to return to a sense or normalcy, whatever that may entail from day to day. It sure doesn’t include snow, although for some it does this time of year. Normal mundane events take on a different meaning after weeks like this, at least for a minute. I won’t be waiting for the traction to break and send me into a wild, uncontrollable spin. I’m ready for the normal, it’s all I know. It may seem utter nonsense to one, but….might well explain the utter confusion.

Turns out “Alice in Wonderland” was the perfect book for this week.