Lately, my 12 year old and I have been taking after-dinner walks together. The excuse, not that we need one, is that our sweet dog prefers walking in a little pack. She clips along faster and sniffs with greater joy when my son is along. Maybe that’s because he, too, loves exploring. Whereas, I skirt fallen trees or babbling creeks, my son and dog see those as opportunities to investigate.
It was on one of these back-woods adventures that my son spotted his latest “must-have” treasure. I don’t even know how it caught his eye, for it was almost completely buried beneath spring grass and old decaying leaves at the base of a tall oak. “Yuck, don’t touch it!” I started to say, but it was too late. He was already holding the cruddy old bowling ball snug against his shirt with two hands. It was so worn, it didn’t even have paint on it. In fact, it looked rather prehistoric, a stony rain-pitted sphere with three finger holes.
Of course, he wanted to keep it. But, you have to understand our basement and back yard are already full of found-treasures. There’s the old shutter my son turned into a ramp and the old lawnmower wheels that, with an old discarded crate, became a wagon. Then up in his room, we have more “upcycled” creations including a space vehicle made from straws, clay, and old juice cartons.
So, in a selfish attempt to preserve some aura of serenity and beauty at home, I said, “No, honey, it’s just more clutter.”
Then, bless his freckles, he sighed, “Come on, Mom. Please? I’m a creative kid. I’ll invent a new lawn game or something.”
And, you guessed it, I caved (pun intended). But I’m actually glad we took that ball home. Not only has it inspired lots of fun outdoor play, it has also reminded me that inspiration can be found everywhere, even in the seeming grit and crud of daily life. Arguably, the best ideas are the ones that seem a little messy at first. They’re the ones that end up gripping the reader with their unexpected freshness.
This week, don’t overlook that messy bit of inspiration that comes your way. Instead, lug it home. Roll it around, wrestle with it, let it sit in the living room, grit and all, and maybe, just maybe it’ll inspire your creative side in new and unexpected ways.