Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coconut Glee

Mama and Baba were walking through a grove of palm trees on Green Leaf Beach, ZhangJiang city in South China. My girls and I were playing in the warm surf nearby. Mama calls out to me "Daniel, guo lai, ni kan yi xia, ("Daniel, come here, have a look," translated into mandarin from cantonese.) She has this look of near rapture on her face, the happiest I've seen her. Annie, Mandy, and I walk over the where she and Baba (papa) are apparently harvesting coconuts with smiles as big as the secluded beach we were on. Baba whips out his pocketknife and cuts the top off a coconut, handing it to mama, who takes a big drink, wipes her mouth and offers it to me with so much glee I cannot help but chuckle.

It gets me to thinking about what makes the people in my life happy, what puts the glee where all can see. For Annie, my eldest, it's Barbie DVD's and Hannah/Babara cartoons. She sings along with Island Barbie, flutters with Mariposa Barbie, and when Tom and Jerry one-up another, she rolls on the couch in laughter. For Mandy, it's daredevil shoulder rides, red lanterns hung from every tree on the boulevard, and jumping. She jumps on everything from Daddy's beer belly to the top bunk of her bunk bed. This has earned her the nickname "Fall down baby" as she tends to forget she's land bound. Angie, get's gleeful over discount shopping and spontaneous humor. I've seen her collapse into a Chinese squat over a simple joke, her shoulders shuddering and her eyes alight as she fights to compose herself enough to stand again.

I get gleeful over glee itself. Glee is rare in this world of rapidly evolving cynicism, of seen everything now so nothing can touch me. It's easy to forget the simple joys in life. With the world's grief, mistakes, bad deeds, and bad examples of humanity paraded before our eyes non-stop; every newscast, web cast, podcast, or broadcast peppered with reasons to look away, it's easy to say "Maybe we can't." It takes simple glee, the experience of seeing another being in it's optimal state; smiling completely, eyes and mouths in tandem with a happy heart, to fill a person with a sense of "Maybe we can." For those of you out there who feel the world has become a darker place, take a look around you; find your glee. It could be in a coconut, a cartoon, a cartwheel or in a lovers smile. It's there, you've just stopped looking.