As a child of the 90s, I collected Beanie Babies (oddly named, now that I think about it, given that they were animals. . .). Specifically, I was interested in the bears. As my collection grew, the uses to which I put them also expanded, especially in the summer months when the length of each day was an eternity. And, moreover, when Mom banished us each to our own rooms to play quietly while she “rested her eyes.”
I did not play well by myself. Or, I should say, I did not play well quietly by myself. So one day, when locked in my room with only animal shaped bean bags for comfort, I almost went mad.
Until I thought of a solution: the Beanie Babies were allowed to make noise. They were not under motherly interdiction. And, moreover, the Beanie Babies needed to fight a war. Yes, you understand, the Beanie Babies had established an entire civilization in my room, and that civilization was threatened by massive stuffed animals.
I lined up the royal family (the bears) on my bed with King Erin (I did not yet know that Erin was the female spelling), the Irish bear, at the center. Additionally, the Secretary of Defense (the lizard), the chairman of the joint-chiefs (a dragon), and the joint-chiefs themselves (a smaller dragon for the airforce, a shark for the navy, and a tiger for the army) also gathered on the bed.
I set the rest of the Beanie Baby military up on the floor of my bedroom. They were (obviously) divided into regiments, each with a commander. The airforce perched on the shelves in my room, the navy took up positions on the blue blanket (ocean), and the army held the carpet. And that’s when the invasion began.
The giant stuffed animals moved in for the assault with a great growl and screech. They were met on all fronts by skilled Beanie warriors defending their homeland. The wolves howled, the lions roared, and the dragons breathed fire. Even though the defenders were sustaining heavy losses, they were beginning to push the enemy back towards the closet (the stuffed animal lair) when, all of a sudden, a higher power intervened: “Gregory Coleman! Stop that racket this instant!”
My protests were in vain. Mom did not care that the Beanie Babies were engaged in an apocalyptic struggle, that they were defending their very existence against monsters from another dimension. All that she wanted to do was sleep.
* * *
I don’t have anything very profound to say today. This memory has been in my mind for the past week or so as I’ve discussed the Big Questions with Amanda and others. This is my memory of summer vacation. This is my archetype of normal life.
At some point, in the past several years, I stopped caring about normal life and started to only care about the Big Questions. I still do the normal, but the normal doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have space in my life for Beanie Baby wars. I only have time to load the dishwasher, balance the checkbook, and write blog posts about the Ontology of God.
But I’m going to change that now. Because The Big Questions only matter in light of normal life. And, indeed, they are wrapped up within the ordinary.
Inhale. Exhale. Live.