I wonder if it’s as simple as that. You ask me to do something, and I do it (unless the doing would be harmful to me or others). Should I hold myself back a little more? Show some discretion? Pick and choose which requests I’m willing to act on?
Last Friday afternoon, the kids were working on an art assignment. Each one drew a deciduous tree and coloured the background in tiles of varying shades of green (for the grass) and blue (for the sky). Someone asked if I was going to create one. I said yes, grabbed a piece of art paper, and sat down amid a glom of children.
Most of the student trees looked pretty much the same, and I decided to venture elsewhere. I made the ball of leaves far bigger and the branches spreading wider. The wood of the kids’ trees was uniformly brown, it seemed. It was time for me to rock the tree world. I plucked orange, blue and yellow highlighters from their bin and set to the task. Soon the trunk and branches were layers of these colours. My tree glowed and so did I. The kids nearby noticed, and sent a few ooos and ahhs my way.
As the first bell rang, I sat back and admired the fluorescence. From behind me came a voice:
“Mr. Kerr, may I have your painting?”
With nary a thought entering my head, I said “Yes” and handed over the tree. You ask … I do.
Now it’s today. The teacher needed a bathroom break and asked if I would cover for a few minutes. As soon as he was out the door, another girl said “Mr. Kerr, sing us a song.”
I smiled. Inside the words “Of course” welled up and I started in. I had sung The Wings That Fly Us Home at a meeting of the Evolutionary Collective in May. This time, I was forgetting lots of the lines. I stopped, pulled out my phone and found the lyrics, just as the recess bell rang. Probably fifteen kids got their coats on and headed out to the yard. Eight stayed and gathered around me. I sang the whole song. Someone had asked me to.
Why resist the requests?
Why say no to life?
Why not just do it?
The spirit fills the darkness of the heavens
It fills the endless yearning of the soul
It lives within a star too far to dream of
It lives within each part and is the whole
It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home