Ever since Thing had been left to fend for himself, he had grown a little harder to life. I suppose that life is a matter of holding on to your innocence until gravity eventually catches up with you and then, it’s all a matter of how you deal with that.
From the outside, Thing was still the same beautiful soul that he had always been. The change was in the little things – like in his singing. Once, he would burst forth with a song to make himself happy and without him realising it, he also made those within earshot smile, too. But there had been too many times when there was laughter and sniggering at this singing by those at school, and so he became a little more self-conscious about his tunefulness.
Gravity hits us all in the end and hopefully most of us have someone there to help us through it all. The problem with Thing was that since his mother had gone off to a place that Thing was sure she would return from, he had to deal with all the harder problems of life himself. And that can be a dangerous way to live.
Rules that are made to keep you safe, can inevitably keep people out.
He remembered what Grandfather Thing had told him “A heart builds walls to protect a heart, but in the end you build a jail for yourself, and in building that jail all the bad stuff is trapped inside with you”.
One day Thing went to school, as he always did, but lately he had started to stop singing when he got to the bottom of the mountain, so as not to attract attention. He would walk very quietly to the school doors and sit at the side of the classroom – in order that he would neither upset nor disturb anyone.
But there are two things wrong with that thinking (as his mother would have told him had she been there). The first is that there are some people in this world who are so unhappy within themselves, that they hurt people who are making a noise, just as easily as they hurt those who are quiet.
It is as if they were saying: ‘I am unhappy then I want you to be unhappy too’. The other point was that if Thing had bothered to talk to the children in the classroom, he would have found that there were people who wanted to talk to him too. One girl thought Thing was the coolest kid in class but as he’d never got around to speaking to her, he hadn’t found that out. Another kid at the front of the class wanted to know what kind of stuff he did for hobbies but was too shy to talk to Thing.
You see Thing keeping quiet – (and instead of him thinking that it meant ‘I don’t want to upset any of you’) – ended up being seen as ‘Thing didn’t want to mix with any of us because he thinks he’s too good for us’.
In this life, you can’t second-guess anyone’s thoughts, and you can’t walk about protecting yourself from Gravity – because as sure as there is a sun in the sky, one day Gravity is gonna hunt you down and get you. And that’s when you want as many hearts on your side as possible. So Thing was making his life a little harder than it needed to be, by keeping himself to himself.
Yet sooner rather than later, Thing would find out that by breaking down the walls and being yourself would upset some people (because some people are walking different paths, that’s all) but the rest, the ones who saw the beauty in who you were, well, these were the ones worth holding on to.
And on that sunny day when Thing worked all this out in his heart and his head, was the day he started to sing again and not worry who could hear: because being yourself catches the hearts that matter.
He knew that when his mother returned, she would be proud of all these thoughts and the lessons he had learned.
Thing was growing up and he liked the feeling.
bobby stevenson 2016
wee bobby 2016