This wasn’t my idea. My granddaughter took an apple out of the fruit bowl last night and said, “This apple is fuzzy. Have you ever heard of a fuzzy apple? It thinks it’s a peach!” I had to check it out—no mold, but it did have that slightly leathery feel that apples can get when they’ve sat in the fruit bowl too long. She didn’t want to hear it. This was an event: the discovery of a fuzzy apple, unlike any other apple she had ever encountered. Channeling English teachers everywhere, she then said, “Who has ever heard of a fuzzy apple? This would be a good dog dost for you tomorrow.” It wasn’t a suggestion.
Dog dost, you might have guessed, is her way of saying blog post. She’s been on a nonsense-rhyme kick, and if she can work in a bit of alliteration, even better. Dog dost it is. She’s usually less enthusiastic about them. This was the first time she had given me an assignment, and like English students everywhere, I fully intended to ignore it. She was quick, though, to remind me this morning that my task had been set. The rest was up to me.
Did I really have anything to say about fuzzy apples? While I ate breakfast, I thought that maybe the apple wasn’t actually one of the fresh Marshall Macintoshes that we had gotten at the orchard. Maybe it felt fuzzy because it was an older Paula Red from the grocery store. I was composing a paragraph in my head, when it occurred to me that I should go look at the apple. It was right there on the counter. Instead of making something up, I could look. Do the research. Experience the actual apple instead of my image of the apple. Why was my first impulse to rely on my imagination instead of reality? How often did I do that with other things? What about all those conversations I have in my head? Real people. Fake interactions. My primary drive is inward every time. It takes more effort—at least it feels like it might take more effort—to explore the external, to ask the questions, to look at the apples.
What am I exploring with all that inner-directed energy: Who am I? Where do you end and I begin? How much of me is you, and how deep does that go? Have I really changed or am I playing a role? Am I an apple that thinks it’s a peach? We haven’t had to have those conversations with her yet, the ones about not letting your friends influence you so much that you lose your own identity. We don’t talk about hanging out with the wrong crowd. It doesn’t take a wrong crowd to lose yourself (and many of those wrong crowds are the only place some of us feel accepted). It’s all perspective. That peach doesn’t think the apple feels fuzzy at all. The apple might feel safer with a bit of fuzz if it’s in a bowl full of peaches. Or it might feel judged by all those shiny apples that just joined them. Maybe it likes the way the peaches smell, so it wishes it were a peach. Or it could be that it thinks others like the way peaches smell, so it tries to hide its appleness.
Who’s ever heard of a fuzzy apple? We all have. I’ve been in all of those situations and more at different times. Now I just accept that I’m a leathery, slightly fuzzy, apple that’s been in the bowl too long. But I can’t tell her that. Not yet. She’s six, and an apple is just an apple. And a blog post is a dog dost. And a fuzzy apple is a wonder to be shared.
Why did I write this post? I had a poem ready, but I decided to interpret our interaction last night as an invitation from the universe to do something different. I thought I had nothing at all to say about fuzzy apples. I was wrong. I could have ignored her assignment, smiled, blown her off. She’d never know unless she asked what I had written. Then I’d have to confess or lie. I didn’t want to do either, so I wrote. And I learned that the smallest things can be opportunities if we let them. It’s up to us. Our attitudes toward what is possible, what meanings we infuse into the tiniest exchanges, will shape our understanding of ourselves and our world if we let them. I wrote this post because a six-year-old sage told me to. She knows I have a lot to learn.