The yarn almost clotheslined me as I entered the front room.
“What on Earth?…”
“Sorry!” Heather called out, laughing. “I forgot you’d be walking through here.”
Heather had been busy with our 9-year-old niece, the ever-inventive Riley. Together, the two of them had strung two sharply angled lines of yellow yarn from the bay window to the floor, securing them at each end with packing tape.
“It’s for Ducky,” Heather explained. Riley picked up her ever-present toy duck – the fuzz long since worn smooth by years of loving – clipped him to a coat hanger and hung it at the top of the yarn.
ZOOM! Riley laughed. Heather smiled. I stared agape. They’d built a zip line, sending him as smoothly to the ground as any Colorado rock climber could ask for.
As God is my witness, I didn’t know Duckies could fly.
I suppose by now I should be used to the ingenuity of our younger relations. But that’s the thing about imagination – it keeps creating its own wonder and appreciation. For a moment, you get a flash into someone else’s thinking and it expands your own.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been that good with my hands, but I’m especially impressed by life’s builders. Particularly in a situation like this where you have limited materials, and manage to create something useful.
That’s not a bad example to have as we head into the primary season.
OK, don’t run and hide. I know that we’ve had election reminders, advertisements, and soapboxes on every side – on the screen, in the mail, on the doorstep, all over the media – and it’s only going to get more intense as we shift from the primaries to the general election. This isn’t a soapbox for one particular candidate … not at the rates they’re offering, anyway.
So why bring it up here? Because like invention, elections are an attempt to get from the ideal to the real with the materials you have.
And sometimes those materials are more limited than we’d like.
We’ve all seen it in so many elections. Nobody gets everything they want. We all have our ideal candidate with just the right resume who would touch all the right issues in just the right way to establish justice, prosperity, and half-price banana splits at Dairy Queen.
And then the actual candidates appear. And they’re … people. Ones with … well, maybe some of what we want. But we start wading through this one’s history, and that one’s attitude, and the one who trips on their tongue every three sentence. Sooner or later, someone says it: “Are these really the only choices we have?”
I am convinced that we could have the reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Fred Rogers walk into the room and we’d still find ourselves asking that question. Even at its best, politics invites criticism and challenge; at its most vicious, it can make a Broncos-Raiders game look like a tea party.
We’re not getting everything we want. Any of us.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t build something with what we have available.
And that’s what all this is about. Building something that makes this a better place for all of us.
Sure, you still have to use your judgment. Not all materials are equally useful and some may burn down the house entirely. But if we focus on what needs to be built – if we keep the hope that something CAN be built, and work toward it – even a limited tool box can make a difference.
It may not look like much. It may be totally improvised. But if we keep working at it, we just might surprise ourselves with the results.
And that would be just Ducky.