Yesterday David picked out the book Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, and as he read to me I felt like I was revisiting an old friend. I smiled as I pulled out those tucked-away fond memories of Owl when my three bigs were little. He's such a humorous, endearing character in the chapters of The Guest, Strange Bumps, Tear-Water Tea, and Owl and the Moon. But my favorite chapter has to be Upstairs and Downstairs...
Owl's house had an upstairs and a downstairs. There were twenty steps on the stairway. Some of the time Owl was upstairs in his bedroom. At other times Owl was downstairs in his living room.
When Owl was downstairs he said, “I wonder how my upstairs is?” When Owl was upstairs he said, “I wonder how my downstairs is getting along? I am always missing one place or the other. There must be a way,” said Owl, “to be upstairs and to be downstairs at the same time.”
Does this struggle of being torn between two places resonate with you too? Is there any way possible to live in two places at one time? This is what Owl tried...
“Perhaps if I run very very fast, I can be in both places at once.” Owl ran up the stairs. “I am up,” he said. Owl ran down the stairs. “I am down,” he said.
Owl ran up and down the stairs faster and faster. “Owl!” he cried. “Are you downstairs?” There was no answer. “No,” said Owl. “I am not downstairs because I am upstairs. I am not running fast enough.”
“Owl!” he shouted. “Are you upstairs?” There was no answer. “No,” said Owl. “I am not upstairs because I am downstairs. I must run even faster.”
“Faster, faster, faster!” cried Owl. Owl ran upstairs and downstairs all evening. But he could not be in both places at once.
What ways have you tried to live in two places? Can you stretch yourself far enough or run back and forth fast enough? Sometimes all the effort and exhaustion brings us to a simple realization:
“When I am up,” said Owl, “I am not down. When I am down I am not up. All I am is very tired!” Owl sat down to rest. He sat on the tenth step because it was a place that was right in the middle.
I envision this middle step as looking out the window over the Pacific Ocean, in flight between China and America. Where is the place in the middle for you? How do you balance your life between two worlds?
(Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the theme of Read)