Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Exploding Yellow Elephants!

This morning, I was driving into work when I was treated to a lovely sight - a school bus, waving its stop signs like elephant ears, slowly coming to a stop, and then -- oh my!

Kids exploded out the doors like fireworks going off - boom! bam! whizz! - their arms wildly whirling, backpacks catapulted, shouts and cheers and thundering sneakers pounding the asphalt as they burst into the endless sky of their first day of freedom - summer vacation has arrived!

They flew out and scattered like pigeons, and the bus, now alone in the street, started its engine again. I watched the bus pull in its stop signs, slowly rumble down the street another 300 yards, then wave the signs again and coast to a stop. Another explosion, more shouts, more hilarity.

This continued for two more stops before I had to turn off and go my way. I might have been irritated to have to stop every thousand feet, were it not for the undiluted primal joy of watching freshly liberated humans exulting in their newfound paradise. With so much happiness spilling out of the yellow elephant bus, how could I do anything but laugh?

It's a good reminder.

Being freed takes time. You have to ride the bus of your old life for awhile, watch the others take their turns. Three more stops before you get to your stop. Or maybe twenty. You think about all the homework you've been doing. And now, it's done. But you're still here, on this bus. You begin to wonder sometimes if you'll ever get off. Maybe it'll turn around and take you back -- oh, perish the thought! And that thing that sits on your shoulders like a giant backpack, that weight of responsibility or guilt or shame or whatever - it hasn't moved all that much in a while. It has worn grooves into your shoulders. You have been sitting slouched in the same place with the same goofy and annoying others around you and your butt is sore and you're beginning to wonder if your feet will ever take you anywhere again.

Don't worry. Sooner or later, your turn is coming. Your turn to stand up, take those first wobbly steps down to solid ground, turn around, see where you were, take another step, take a deep breath, and then, with all the energy you have in you, throw that backpack up and away with a rebel yell. Watch it arc high up into the sky and then plummet back down, but not on you. You can throw it in the weeds and leave it be, to be grown over by grass until it's long forgotten. Maybe someone else will pick it up, but not as a burden, and certainly not as yours.

Summer is coming. No matter if you have to sit on the bus through your fall and your winter and even your spring, there is a summer.

There is always a summer. I have seen the yellow elephants testify the truth, and I know that it is so.


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