“The Table Where Rich People Sit”

“But my mother thinks if all the rulers of the world could get together at a friendly wooden table in somebody’s kitchen, they would solve all their arguments in the half the time.”

As I read Byrd Baylor’s words aloud over the weekend, this sentence stuck with me. Perhaps the next presidential debate should happen in someone’s kitchen.

I was introduced to The Table Where Rich People Sit at my first post-college “real job.” For an entire school year, I read it nearly every Friday to my departing group of students. The gist of the story is that our experiences in nature- like seeing cactus bloom or hearing coyotes- can be assigned a monetary value so that we realize how rich we are, even if our cash is low.

The book has a serious, contemplative, poetic nature to it. I’d never had someone laugh out loud as I read it (okay, except maybe some kid who was only paying attention to the kid next to him and not my reading). That changed this weekend as I read it out loud to a group of parents.

In the beginning, the narrator talks about why she called the family meeting to talk about money and “I say we don’t have enough of it.” She goes on about her “worn out shoes” and how her parents need more ambition; different jobs. When you read this to kids, they are probably all seriously thinking “OMG, So true, I’m going to go home and make sure my parents know this.” To the kids this is a serious issue. To these parents it was a joke, picturing their child saying such a silly thing. They were cracking up. One even said “that sounds like my daughter.”

It struck me how perspective is everything.

Of course, that is the whole point of the that book, as the discussion of the family’s actual cash flow gets brushed aside by the larger conversation of “a special plan where we get paid in sunsets, too, and in having time to hike around the canyons and look for eagles nests.”

If you’ve been able to fall asleep immediately following watching the presidential debate, I’d love to know your strategy. Debate yoga? As for me, last night you could find me on the couch, reading to myself Byrd Baylor’s “The Table Where Rich People Sit.” If there’s anything I learned reading it aloud to adults this weekend, it’s that we are never too old to enjoy a children’s book.

Advertisements

“These Days”

When I first read it, I was sitting on my sister’s couch in Boston, watching what I thought might be some of the worst news of the week- the hostility of the Presidential Debate. That was far from it. As it sank in that five local teenagers had been killed by a driver intentionally going the wrong way, I had many thoughts, and yet didn’t know what to think.

Perhaps some of your thoughts were the same. If you are a parent, I know some of your thoughts were different. “This could’ve been my child.” If you knew these youth, I can’t imagine what was and is going through your head. I don’t know you, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I also thought, and not for the sake of dismissing the sadness, I hope the concert was good. When someone dies in a ski crash or the like, we all take solace in the fact that they died doing something they loved. I’m guessing that these teenagers did not love driving on 89, and from reading about them I know they had many passions they shared with their classmates. But driving on the highway this night enabled them to see what I sincerely hope was the best concert they’d ever experienced.

I had never heard of the hip-hop artist Mike Stud before, and I didn’t google him until I was talking to a high school student I work with and realized this student had been in the very same place that night. He was wearing a hat that said “These Days.”I watched the music video for the song by that name on youtube. Currently, its tune is stuck in my head but the only word I remember from the lyrics is f*ck.

I think that’s fitting. Days like these, it’s hard to know what to think but f*ck.

The same student tells me that Mike Stud was an accomplished college baseball player destined to go pro, until he was sidelined with a major injury. He never would have guessed he’d have a music career.

Likewise, so many never would’ve guessed they’d be mourning five teenagers like they are right now. I wonder if there is some glimmer of hope in that analogy.

“These days”, I’m thinking of everyone effected by this tragedy.