Rochat, do you see? In the depths
Some journeys require a particular type of hero.
You don’t just walk into Mordor…without a pair of brave and compassionate hobbits, anyway. Going to Oz takes common sense in Kansas. And if you’re going where no man has gone before, it helps to have enterprising people with you.
But everyone pales before the adventure that begins with a simple question:
“Missy, where did the stuff I just had on the table go?”
And so begins the dive into Missy’s bag.
If you’re a long-time reader here, you might be shivering already. For newcomers: Missy, our service with developmental disabilities, goes nowhere without her purse. (Trust me, it would be easier to separate Indiana Jones from his whip.) Like a Joseph Campbell hero, he’s had a thousand faces over the years, ranging from a small satchel to an oversized beach bag.
But some things remain constant. They are almost always red. They usually have a working shoulder strap (for a while). And they attract everything nearby like a miniature black hole.
So when something I had left out for a visitor suddenly disappeared any moment – well, that didn’t take Lieutenant Columbo, did it? Especially since Missy the Everlastingly Curious had already been interrupted trying to send her to Purseland earlier.
“Honey, can I have that for a second?”
Thus begins a quest worthy of Don Quixote… or at least Oscar the Grouch. Patient exploration revealed:
Two stuffed animals (among the few things to ever escape Purse Event Horizon for brief periods)
Cards from at least three different games
The cover of a Random House book – just the cover, mind you.
Documents and programs of a dozen different activities.
A wallet and two plastic bags stuffed to the brim with random items.
The Ark of the Covenant, a lost play by Shakespeare, two doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
You had the idea. Just about anything and everything was there to find her, it seemed… except the thing we were looking for. But there seemed to be nowhere else to go, at least not in this corner of the space-time continuum.
“Scott? asked my wife Heather. “And my purse?”
Bingo. Prevented from using her own Schoolbag of Many Things, Missy had decided to be useful and leave it to Heather. Without telling anyone, of course. (Maybe we should have called the lieutenant after all.)
I had to laugh. Each quest, of course, must include a valuable lesson. And this was one I had seen more than once in the wide world – namely, that “help” sometimes isn’t.
So many of us are quick to help a person or a problem and that’s wonderful. But sometimes we are too quick – we don’t stop to think about what the situation really needs. At best, it can mean a lot of wasted effort, like people mobilizing in disasters against instructions. At worst, it may even be actively harmful.
It’s helpful to start with what I didn’t do…examine the assumptions. By asking, listening and thinking ahead, we can be the welcome help instead of another distraction.
It sounds simple. It’s simple. And if more of us keep that in mind, it can make any task that much easier.
In fact, you might even say it’s in the bag.