So, I know I wrote this entire post preaching about how we shouldn’t be attached to material possessions–and I still stand by what I said. However, I do possess a few items that are of great sentimental or practical value to me. So I thought I’d share them today, since that is the theme of this week’s Spill It Sundays, hosted by Arman. And yes, I am deliberately ignoring the “selfie” part again–I am still not a fan of taking pictures of myself. Oh, and just a random fact: I finally figured out how to make emoticons on Facebook or WordPress–I never knew you had to put the little smiley face a space after the word, and not use a period. I feel like such a genius right now…Needless to say, I am not the most technologically advanced person.
On a shelf in my closet sits a small stuffed dog. A faint smile adorns his worn-out face, and he is tan colored with a black tail and long, floppy black ears. An orange and green bandanna is tied around his neck, one that I cut out of some old material many years ago. I have given away most of my old stuffed animals over the years, but have held onto this special animal named, for lack of a more creative title, Dog. I do not recall exactly where I got Dog—whether he was a present, a hand-me-down from my older sister, or a garage sale find. But Dog has been with me for at least twelve years, and has become a beloved “companion” of mine. He is a symbol of all the make-believe games I played as a child, games in which he occasionally made an appearance.
I consider Dog to be a symbol because he represents not a stuffed animal, but rather dozens of childhood memories that are precious to me and still make me smile. This is one of the criteria that our book mentions—a symbol must represent “more than its literal meaning” (Introduction to Literature, page 211). Also, symbols generally draw a relationship between two things that are not necessarily related. Though stuffed dogs and childhood memories certainly may be related for some people, they are not inevitably bound together for everyone. Another rule is that a symbol must not be a “passing comparison,” like a metaphor or a simile (Introduction to Literature, page 211). Dog is not like a childhood memory, nor is he a childhood memory; instead, he symbolizes the make-believe games that are imprinted in my memory.
When I was young, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, my dream was to become a veterinarian when I grew up, since I loved all animals and hated to see them in pain or injured. So I set up a “vet’s office” in my living room and carefully put bandages on all my stuffed animals, including Dog. We had many pets over the years—dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, lizards, rats, and several others—but it was far safer and easier to “practice” on nonliving creatures. I distinctly remember wrapping a toilet paper and tape “cast” around Dog’s “broken” leg, feeling proud that I was practicing for my future career. Though my dreams of being a vet have faded to make room for new aspirations, I still recall that past desire every time I look at Dog.
Another game I used to play was Fantasy Land, an elaborate make-believe game I played with my brother that involved unicorns, griffins, blue swimming squirrels, and other odd creatures. Though Dog may not have been an active participant in this game, I am reminded of this fun and engaging pastime each time I see Dog’s small, black, and warm smile—a smile that represents the joy I felt while taking part in Fantasy Land. Dog does not have any fancy gadgets implanted in him, he cannot make sounds or “speak” in another language, and he is in no way similar to all those “enriched” and “educational” toys that so many children have today. But he brought me joy, just as playing Fantasy Land made me happy despite its lack of any fancy props other than my imagination.
Because we lived on an 8-acre plot of land in Oregon for a few years, many of the games I played were explorer/adventurer type games that involved making forts, splashing through creeks, and poking around huge anthills. Even though Dog was just a toy, I considered him to have his own unique personality—wise, brave, and kind. So he was a natural companion for these excursions, joining me and my siblings as we trekked across the fields and hills of our property. Just one glance at Dog can bring back a flood of memories: crouching by the side of the dirt road and yelling random things at the cars rumbling by, making dirt “soup” and “cakes” for my stuffed animals, dancing on the roof of our shed, and catching “pet” lizards to keep in a rusty bathtub outside that was filled with sand.
I believe that other people should see Dog as a symbol in my life because of what he represents: the imagination, joy, and creativity that were involved in creating those make-believe games that I played as a child. He has been a silent observer to my life for more than a decade, and helps remind me of the years in which I would eagerly lose myself in an imaginary world—a world in which I could be whomever I wanted to be.
Item #2: My retainer. I know–first I show you a picture of my 8-year old pulled teeth, and now I show you a picture of my saliva-tainted retainer. However, this retainer is what’s preventing my teeth from going back to being horribly crooked and buck-toothed, so I treat it with a great deal of respect (AKA wearing it faithfully every night). Trust me, you would have winced if you saw my teeth when I was a child. It wasn’t pretty. I had braces on for about two-and-a-half years starting when I was around 13, and I have no desire to go through that process again simply because I was lazy about wearing my retainer. So yeah, retainers are awesome.
Item #3: My scientific calculator. This has been a blessing in more ways than one over the years, especially through my dreadful statistics course last semester. I would spend hours trying to do certain problems by hand, only to discover, thanks to Google, that you could solve the problems in about 5 minutes on my scientific calculator. And my textbook had never specifically mentioned this particular method that would have saved me several semi-mental breakdowns. I’m all about trying to understand and analyze a problem as opposed to blindly solving it with a calculator, but sometimes you simply don’t have three hours to spare for a statistics problem.
Item #4: My pointe shoes. This particular pair is fairly new, and I only started wearing them on Wednesday. Trust me, despite their shiny beauty, wearing new pointe shoes can be incredibly $%@*%@-ing painful (use your imagination and insert whatever curse word you desire, since I prefer not to cuss on my blog). Even yesterday, when they were semi-soft-ish, I was walking gingerly around and trying not to wince at the pain in my feet. Still, the process of breaking them in must be completed–it’s like a torture ritual for dancers. They should be much better by next week. Even though the mere idea of dancing on the tips of your toes may seem bizarre to non-dancers, I love the feeling of dancing in pointe shoes, and they are the only shoes to which I am slightly attached. Sure, there are days when I just want to incinerate them in a bonfire, but those days are usually few and far between. Usually. Oh, and WordPress? You need to get with the program and start recognizing “pointe” as a word, because it IS A REAL WORD.
Item #5: My book of Baha’i prayers. Don’t worry, I am not going to go off on a religious rant right now and try to convert you all to the Baha’i faith, but whenever I am upset, anxious, stressed out, or overwhelmed, I turn to this prayer book and always manage to find something relevant to the situation. I completely respect the fact that not everyone finds comfort in prayer, but I certainly do.
That’s all I have for today; as I am writing this, it is Sunday morning and I am quite stiff and sore from (1) an intense ballet class on Friday evening and (2) my long day yesterday: 2 hours teaching three different pre-ballet classes followed immediately by four hours of dancing and almost two hours of cleaning the studio afterwards (which I do about once a month). As soon as I got home, I basically inhaled a ton of food and spent the rest of the evening working on some homework and sitting on the couch watching three episodes Doctor Who. Today will call for plenty of stretching, that’s for sure. I hope you all have a fantastic Sunday!