#27 Weaving My Own Grasshopper
One summer day in Hong Kong when I was thirteen years old, my uncle handed me a green grasshopper the size of my hand. My eyes lit up as I took it.
He had woven it from a foot-long segment of leaf from a tropical plant.
Outside, he ripped another segment off a plant and asked if I wanted to see how he did it. I nodded and he said “I’ll show you once.”
Typical. He’d given me different types of twine and tools to make different kinds of hand-knit crafts. One time he said to me, setting the precedent “when I was growing up, my mother — so your grandma — would tell us “I’ll show you once and you have to remember”. She showed us once and never again. We had to remember how to do it ourselves.”
We had a family culture of doing everything ourselves. Valuing not asking for help, or worse, paying someone to help us. That’s wasteful, we’re intelligent, competent. If you don’t know how to do something, learn it and do it.
That’s how I’ve been living because part of me felt like I had to.
It’s a competition between innate curiosity and an over-absorbed value of independence and working hard, being completely self-sufficient.
What would I do instead? The question not being asked here is — what would I do if I believed I had all the resources to materialize what I want?
Delegate. Delegate everything I do not want to do and don’t know how to do. Hire a side-kick, treat them well, have them find things out for me and link me up with the people or spacecraft I need.
As for me, how am I going to use all the time and mental energy I’ve freed up?
Sing, travel, move, think, and write.
Maybe it sounds like I would live to the whims of my body. I would. After all, I am a big sexy monkey. Don’t underrate that. Monkeys, by instinct and intelligence, have built highly functioning social structures and means of communication. (Don’t overrate that either, social structures enable survival, but being too different can be deadly.)
I grew up with World Magazine — the magazine for kids produced by the publishers of National Geographic. Each issue about 20 pages of wildlife photographs, scenes unseen to me, and people decorated in ways foreign to me, inside and outside the country I lived in.
If some of this sounds a bit like ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ — that’s OK. In the movie, the main character digs out her decades of National Geographic magazine clippings, injecting momentum to go farther out into the world in a year-long break from her New York City life.
Just a few months ago, I fantasized about going to Malaysia this month, a place I’ve never been, with my friend who is moving there.
Instead, I’m sitting in an apartment in Kennedy Town typing away, anxious about getting to a breakfast meeting on time.
This is Day 27 of Don’t Break the Chain — a writing class by Cole Schafer.
Today’s prompt — “What in your life have you been doing because you’ve felt you have to versus because you’ve actually wanted to? And, furthermore, what would you spend your day doing if you had the choice?”