On my way to work in the wee hours of the morning, my route takes me on a winding road in front of the elementary school my children attended. It’s quiet at this time of day, and I’m especially watchful for the deer that like to get my adrenaline going.
But on a recent morning, I guess because the light is debuting earlier, I noticed something a bit intriguing. You have to drive slowly around that curve and it’s pretty much in your face, so I don’t know why I never noticed it before. There are about 10 properties sharing their border with the school, houses with the most artful display of wood, metal and vinyl fencing.
They are all so different, yet their purpose is very much the same. They all keep people out, maintain a perimeter and reflect the taste and/or the means of the homeowners within.
I pretty much view my life like that – surrounded by an enormous blend of people with varied agendas and attitudes, but who also share the same purpose. They live their lives the best they can by being exactly who they are.
The artist in me viewed that backyard scene as my palette, and I could envision what person symbolized each section of fence.
The vinyl “perfect” one enjoys the best of everything, would give it all away in a heartbeat and shines brightly when the sun gives her some reflecting power.
The metal chain link is an open book. She wears her heart on her sleeve, is open and honest, thin yet strong, and is all ears to listen.
The worn, wooden one wears well with age, steady and sturdy, and doesn’t need accessories to adorn her life.
The redwood has a way with decorating and using color and has seen some beautiful and colorful places in her life. She enjoys being a bit different with her opinions, making her memorable. She has weathered some frailties recently without curtailing her many tasks and still stands strong.
The picket is a perky old standard, simply maintaining her boundaries, while creating openings to reach out to others. There are no big walls here to shut out people, or animals either, for that matter.
I think we’re all like prisms that just reflect the sun differently. When I asked my 5-year-old granddaughter to help me color a poster I had created for a world hunger campaign at church, she colored the farmer’s overalls in a rainbow blend of bright hues. I clearly envisioned him with denim, but she saw it differently. It was the same farmer, still ready to do some farming, just a bit happier maybe in his new duds.
The point I’m trying to make is this: Validating and embracing “different” creates some new perspectives, giving us a renewed focus and challenge in this life that we may tend to take for granted.
We don’t all fit like a puzzle. We overlap, share and squeeze in our pieces in this world, like those non-conforming fences – standing rigid , individually, yet supporting shoulder to shoulder, withstanding the same pressures and forces from the outside, creating a binding force of strength.
T.H. White wrote: “I can find nothing more terrifying than an eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.”
Jessica Cronenberger lives in West Seneca.