Yesterday I watched some Johnny Carson clips on You Tube. I’d forgotten how funny the man was. The look, the pause, the giggle, the body language,the class. It’s hard to believe there was so much darkness inside him. On the surface he was all spontaneity and light.
I didn’t start out watching Johnny. I started out watching Fred. You know, the Fred who danced with Ginger. Which brings me back to Johnny, and the clip where he had Ginger on his show and she asked him to dance and he did. And he was graceful and great until he kicked his leg too far up in the air and after grabbing his crotch, limped back to his desk crying “I hurt myself, I hurt myself,” with his voice going all high and peculiar. Right. You needed to be there, or at least see it, which of course you can do by going to You Tube.
So I started thinking how amazing it would be to have our own Special You Tube Moments. Mini-memorials, mementos, and memories of our lives and how we lived them. The good and the bad.The pretty and the ugly. Even the times when we tried to show off and limped away embarrassed, in pain, and defeated.
For no good reason, the first thing that comes to mind is the time that my school mate, Jerome Umschweif, stretched a thin cord across the dim entryway of my building just beyond the staircase, which I, of course, failed to notice as I came skipping down the steps, on my way to school, singing my little heart out, hoping I might finally be discovered by a passing talent scout, landing instead on my back, praying to breathe again. When I finally managed it, I yelled out every curse word I knew, which by the age of ten was more than a few, but Jerome had already fled the scene of his crime cackling all the way.
Then there’s my face to face with a rattlesnake on the croquet court at Camp Grottewit (Named for the owner, Irma Grottewit, who once said to my bunk mate, Ellen X , “You know why your mother sends you to this camp, Ellen? She sends you because she hates you and she wants to get rid of you. That’s why she sends you” — Not long after, karma delivered, but that’s her You Tube Moment, not mine). Although I was and remain terrified of snakes, I had no time to be scared. The snake was sick. Could barely move. Nonetheless, was able to rattle. I escaped unscathed. I have no clue what happened to the snake.
Much later, while living in Vermont, I took a walk alone in some very deep snow. Crusty on top, soft underneath. As one leg plunged through, while the rest of me remained on top, I wondered how long it would be before someone came to save me . When I got tired of wondering, I prayed fiercely while pulling my leg up and out, and sliding along on my chest to a place where I was able to grab a tree and get myself to safety. Only afterward did I realize my advantage in being a lightweight.
Let me end with the good times. .In particular, those shocking, shining moments when I stood up to my craziest teachers, one in seventh grade, another in sophomore year of high school, and walked out of the room in the midst of their tirades. Though I got no medals at my eighth grade graduation, and lost my part in the school play, I learned how invaluable it was to retain my integrity. I still believe there were angelic interventions involved. I never could have done any of it (except the cursing out of Jerome) on my own.
It might be fun to see these things spin out again in all their inglorious detail. Or, it might not. Who’s to know? What are your own “I Tube” moments, the highs the lows the victories, the embarrassments, and the defeats? There are probably more than you think. A living album of the personal past seems like a valuable thing to have.
Here’s a chance to re-create some of these moments with imagery:
Recreating The “I Tube” Moment
Breathe out one time and go back to a stand-out moment in your life. Use the first one that comes to mind. Don’t worry whether it’s good or bad. Just go for the gusto. Be spontaneous, embarrassed, scared, joyful, whatever comes to you is valuable.
See this moment unfold again, this time as a video clip. See how by doing this you put distance between yourself and what happened.
Observe it all now with clarity and compassion. Make no judgments. Then breathe out, open your eyes, and return.