The inexhaustible power of whimsy

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Back when I worked at the Evil Empire that rhymes with SmackCherry, one of our development strategies for the phones were to give the customer “moments of charm”. In our high-tech lives, there aren’t many times in a day or a week or a month when you’re charmed by anything. So we would develop little moments of charm. I don’t recall what any of those moments are any longer. I held on to my Blackberry longer than most, but its been almost 2 years since I abandoned it to the sands of time. It made me kind of sad that we had to actually program charm into our lives, but there it is.

Around that same time, I came home from work one winter day to find a tiny snowman at the foot of the giant maple tree in my yard. The largest of the three snowballs was about the size of a grapefruit. I don’t know who put it there, but I decided that the delight I felt in seeing that little snowman should be something one passes along. So, under cover of night, Child and I snuck out and put a scarf, hat, and buttons on the regular-sized (previously naked) snowman that the kids next door had made.

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She told me once that never in her life has her birthday fallen on a Saturday.

I could be the killjoy that makes the Googlez tell me when, in her lifetime, her birthday did indeed fall on a Saturday.

Or I could just let her have this fun quirky thing where her birthday, in 77 years, has never fallen on a Saturday. And really, what’s the benefit of crushing this bit of whimsy? Absolutely nothing.

Who’s read the book (or seen the movie) Big Fish? There’s a man named Edward Bloom who has told his son stories about his life that seem extraordinary, and when the Edward is dying, his son tries to unravel what’s fact and what’s made up. And the fact of it is, it’s both and neither. But the fact of it is, Edward Bloom filled his life with whimsy. His son wanted to scrub the whimsy away to see what remained. I love that story. The book is a delight, and the movie is exquisitely filmed. I recommend both.

I’ve kind of always been drawn to the whimsy of the thing. My sister is 11 years younger than me, and when she was a wee lass, a friend and I had her convinced that there were leaf gnomes that painted the trees every fall. You could tell which was which because they could only paint the leaves the same color as their overalls. The stories were elaborate, but the look on my sister’s face as we spun this explanation of the senescence of maple trees was amazing. Eventually, she learned to ask us if something was true, and if it wasn’t, we’d tell her. And she’d be disappointed. Because the thought of the leaf gnomes frolicking in the yard was (and is) way better than “trees kind-of-but-not-exactly die in the fall because biology says so. And dying leaves look like *this*”.

So if your mom tells you she’s never had a birthday on a Saturday, indulge her. And if you can spin a fun story to entertain a child, do that, too. I mean, there are lots of way to include some whimsy in your life. So today, I give you a challenge for October. Go buy yourself a giant bag of sticker-backed googly eyes and let the shenanigans begin. I’ll give you a bit of inspiration:

Googly Ladyparts!

And… because Canadian Thanksgiving is *just * around the corner…


And if you want to sing Surfing Bird whilst you liberally sprinkling your googly eyes around town, I can support that, too.

Have an inspired weekend, friends.

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