Today is one of those days where everything is cosmically connecting.
And it all started with a mud ball.
Let me go back to the beginning…
Today we read a story called “Polish Your Mud Balls” in Life is a Verb by Patti Digh. We read stories from the book a few times a week and complete the writing exercises that accompany them. The background on the book is that when one of my students, Angela Kania, passed away her mother gave me money to use towards Advanced Comp. because it was one of Angela’s favorite classes. She often wrote about “appreciating the small joys in life” so when I came across this book I knew it was the perfect way to have her legacy live on through our reading and writing about living “life as a verb.”
Today’s story was especially inspiring. You can read a version of it on the author’s blog here.
The whole point of the story is, “Don’t seek perfection. Make messes. Play. Make a mud ball. Love what you are creating, even if it never shines, even if it cracks…don’t fear the showers of silt that make the mud balls of our lives shine.”
The mud balls are an excellent metaphor for life as Patti explains, “We polish on own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives–the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us–that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful, more lasting.”
After we read the story, I had my students write three haiku’s….one about failure, one about perfection, and one about the beauty of dirt (and “dirt” could be a metaphor for all things sad, messy, or ugly in life).
At the end they realized that the poems about failure and “dirt” were just as beautiful, if not more, than those about perfection.
The more we talked about it, the more we thought it would be SO much fun to make our own mudballs….and then we thought, how much fun would it be to make them with the second graders we’ve been mentoring (who happen to be taught by our friend, MaDee’s, mother)?
So our plan is to teach the kids about mud balls, and the little metaphor for life that they hold, and then help them to make their own. We will write haiku’s with them about failure, perfection, dirt, and life in general during the process. In the end, each kid will have their very own mud ball, be it shiny, cracked, beautiful or flawed.
But it doesn’t end there.
Our goal is to make a bunch of them, bag them up, and sell them at MaDee’s Market this fall, complete with a little tag explaining the metaphor of the mud ball and pictures of MaDee and Angela, who I know will be sitting together in heaven, smiling down on us as we teach these children and ourselves to appreciate the beauty in imperfection…the dirt of life. To play. To make a mess. To love what we create, even if it never shines, even if it cracks.
To never fear the showers of silt that make the mud balls of our lives shine.
I think so.
And don’t you just love it when that happens?
I sure do.