One of the best toys we had as children was two big tubs of mosaic tiles, the exact size and thickness of dominoes, and with it we'd build mazes all over the house. One, almost finished, was knocked down, much to our dismay, by the wanderings of one of our pet turtles, who was not fazed in the least. A turtle takes the long view.
I've still got some downstairs. If we had wood or tile floors I'd probably make one last maze...after putting the cats in the basement. What made me remember this old homemade toy was a story I heard today:
I ran into a lady in town as she was opening up her arts shop, to whom I've been trying to give our previous hot water heater. Having moved into her parents' old house, she really needs it, but neither one of us has a way to transport it; I needed to tell her we no longer had our landline telephone number. She handed me a little book, of the type with a nature photo on one page and some musings on the opposite one. A local photographer had put it out by herself, like musicians and writers are doing today rather than wasting their time tangling with the publishing or music industries. The author had been preoccupied when bringing the books in a few days earlier, because her parents had lost their home and the electricity to her studio was about to be shut off. The parents had kindly turned their landscaping business over to a younger generation, who had run it into the ground (as it were) and into debt. Due to legal entanglements, the parents were left holding the bag and had to sell their expansive country home, leaving it for a 650-square-foot cabin. In the turmoil, the photographer's mother had forgotten to pay her daughter's utility bills, which she had done while running the accounting end of the landscaping business.
The next day, eight of the eleven books sold, and the photographer had almost enough to pay the bill (wrangling with PP&L Electric about accepting partial payment, of course). And someone had left a $20 bill in her door for a past service -- just enough, in total, to pay it in full.
I thought that life is like a domino maze, and we only see the next one each day -- never the whole scheme. We don't know when some stealthy turtle of fate will knock the whole thing down; we don't see the "Y" fork in the path coming up. It may even be a circle and we'll get hit in the backside soon enough.
But sometimes, you get just what you need.