A Good Question

My walks take me by the homes of many kids whom I know from school. I wave at houses, hoping that some child will burst out of the front door with “Hi, Mr. Kerr!” Sometimes that happens.

Yesterday I was approaching a home and saw the family sitting together on their back deck. It was supper time “and the living was easy.”

Two of the three chidren left their plates behind and came to say hello. They were a 7-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. She had just celebrated a birthday and I was giving her extra attention.

Suddenly, the young man had something to ask:

Why are you different?

My eyes stopped. I wasn’t sure I heard the word right.

Did you say “different”?


There was no thinking. There was just blurting:

Because I like to have fun.

The boy nodded and bounced back to supper on the deck.

A few minutes later, after the girl had shown me the remnants of horse poop on the front lawn, I was heading down the road again … wondering.

Seems a lot older than five. What does he see in me? Am I okay with being different? (I know I am.) Am I willing to really stand out on the scale of public visibility? If I don’t live large, why exactly am I here? (To have comfortable friends, nice meals, cool vacations, and the aura of normality? No thank you.) Is one purpose of mine to awaken kids to the majesty of life, to encourage them to tell the truth, to wonder, to break past any barriers that tall people put in their way? Can I be special without the trappings of ego? What’s going on in this mysterious living and dying?

And here I thought my afternoon was about aerobic fitness and the beauties of nature. Who knew that a short mystic would leave his fried chicken for a brief rendezvous with an ambling man?

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