Friday, December 5, 2014

On The Complicatedness of Simplicitiness

I shake my head at the complexities of life sometimes.  I am not sure if I shake my head in defeat - in acquiescence - or whether I do so in disbelief, because a part of me still hopes that it's not really, complicated, that is...

That went well.

When I was a kid there were nutcrackers.  Everyone had them.  Not just the "toy soldier" variety, no, they came in "old man time" and "Father Christmas" varieties as well.  But they weren't for show, they were to crack nuts.  My mom had a nut bowl.  It was wood, like, log-shaped with bark on the outside.  In the center was a post and at the top of that was an acorn shaped thing that held the crackers themselves and the "nut picks," sharp, dental-like tools that you pulled out the meat from the nut with.

Yes, we cracked our own nuts and picked at them like archaeologists to get at them.  My mom put nuts in my stocking.  It filled the sock well and the sight of almonds and hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans and jumbo walnuts splashing out among the Hershey's kisses will live long in my memory.

My dad would crack nuts and put the shells in his ashtray and when it was full he'd dump it into the fire and the cigarette butts would burn quickly but we'd stare and watch the shells initially smoke and then flare up, the nut oil burning them bright and fast.  I would sometimes poke myself with a pick and even once, out of curiosity, pinched my middle fingernail so tightly it left a deep purple mark under the nail for most of a year.

I remember, when I was older, finding out that the nuts came in big mesh bags, burlap in those days.  The bowl would get refilled and remain around well after the Christmas stuff came down.  It's weird what memory serves us sometimes.

When Nick drew this the other night and I saw it, I said, "Is that a nutcracker, Nick?"

"What's a nutcracker, Dad?"

That same night, while I was talking to Nick - about cracking and eating nuts out of the shell - as he got ready for bed, Zack got a piece of paper and drew this.  It is colored pencil which, as a little advice here, does not scan well.  I walked in as he was topping the mountains in purple majesty (yes, I mentioned that now two posts in a row) and I asked him what he used to make the curves, like a lid or coin or what.

"I did them myself, Dad," he said, "You know, by free."

It took me a second but I realized he meant freehand.  Those are some good curves right there.  I can't draw a straight line, let alone a damned-near perfect curve.  But, honestly, all I was thinking was that a friend of mine from college had an elephant nutcracker that looked surprisingly like this.  The nut went in on top of his back and, through some wonder of mechanics, exited out the, uh, rear, cracked.  The elephant's trunk controlled the whole unseemly process.  She was a pretty odd girl.

So, what is so complicated?  Is it memory?  Then childhood wouldn't be complicated... but, it is.  Is it feelings and emotions?  No, love and all that isn't complicated really.

I don't guess I know why it all seems so hard sometimes.  I was thinking this though - it isn't, until we make it so.  I want to have life be easy and unfettered, not just for me, but for the boys as well, but to grow and learn and make memories and tell our stories, we must - to make all the connections, to see all the angles, to feel all the stings - we must complicate things, it is what we as humans are divined to do.

It's simple, really...

From Marci's ... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ...

Mom: "Hey, guys, can I tell you something real quick?"

N & Z: "No."

Mom: "Well, that was honest."

I'm stayin' out of this one...

It would seem that I wasted your time.  I mean I really didn't end up anywhere, did I?  Life is, at its core, simple, but, as Mr. Rogers said, it is simple and  deep.  Thanks for coming around again.

1 comment:

  1. So funny thing. I thought about buying nutcrackers for my kids. We had decorative ones, but the functional one was a silver metal pair, and I believe we had the same but selection in our tray - but we had no bark on the outside of our tray. Wow, Bill. You just took me back to one of my favorite things as a kid. Might be an Ohio thing...