"Once upon a time, there was a caterpillar. He had a million legs. Every day he would look at all of them, trying to decide which one he should move first. Finally, he died in the same position he began. The end."
A few months ago, I was feeling ambitious. So much so that I pulled up Amazon, found the unabridged version of Les Miserables and clicked order. When the over 1200 pages arrived, they looked more friendly than I expected and I immediately poured a bath so I could get to know them.
Several months later I climbed out of that bath a changed woman—shriveled and pruned and dehydrated from weeping so long and so hard—and changed. Of course, as we all know, "changed" rarely lasts. Just as Baby in Dirty Dancing, great intentions get shoved into the corner of our minds as we tend to forget why we were inspired, what we were always going to remember and what flash of brilliance was revealed to us in those fleeting moments.
It made me sad to think that those godly ideals would stay hidden in the shadows of my library and dimming mind. So I picked up my worn book, a yellow highlighter, and climbed back into that watery casket intending to mark the brilliant passages and use them as a catalyst for my blog. Weeks have passed and I am still stagnant, but this ends today.
Here I go, moving one of my caterpillar legs.
"...you are looking at a plain man and I am looking at a great man. Each of us may benefit." Monseignor Bienvenu—Bishop of Digne
I was a pretty big deal in elementary school. I could roundoff back handspring across the entire field, I was "going with" Troy who gave me his lunch orange every day and I had started wearing a purse and blue eyeshadow before most of the other girls. As I said, a pretty big deal. The world was my chocolate box and as I wiped the brown drool off my chin I had no reason to believe it would ever be any different.
The first day of junior high I kicked open those school doors and those school doors kicked me right back, figuratively knocking my teeth out and giving me a bloody nose. My face was wrong, my words were wrong and my jeans were wrong. Apparently Kings was not the place to buy them. Falling from grace was painful and humiliating and I spent the next few years trying to become what I used to be, only to Pinterest Fail over and over again.
During this time, my big sister was my opposite. She was Valentine royalty, Best All Around and Homecoming Queen. Every boy was secretly in love with her and like Ursula, I would watch her, trying to figure out her secret powers and how I could steal them from her. I used her perfume and chewed her gum. I tried to emulate her walk and her talk and even read her journal. (Sorry 'bout that, Nick.) I would hear, "Why don't you be more like Nicki?" as often as I'd hear, "Why do you always try to be like Nicki?" I just couldn't figure out the perfect recipe and she became a blessing and a curse to me until I eventually came back to myself.
Fortunately, confidence returned with highlighted hair and a savage tan, and popularity was no longer my master. But I had definitely benefited from being plain and looking at a great man. Turns out Nicki's secret was kindness. To everyone. They loved her because they knew she loved them. In appearing lowly, she was great.
Nicki continues to be great, but I'm sure she'd tell you she's been on both sides of the window in her lifetime. We all have. The lesson is in seeing something worth aspiring to no matter which set of eyes you're looking through. Great or plain. Low or high. It doesn't matter. Each of us may benefit.
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