Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, like just last week, and in a place far, far away, on the river bench that overlooks my garden studio, I sat in some state of despondency and contemplated the little door that is nailed to the base of the old willow tree.
I didn’t really expect the door to open or anyone to come out of it, as I knew all too well that it was only a fake door, and that my friends from the edge of imagination, the Pippsywoggins, were not real at all. But I wondered, given a chance, what the Pippsywoggins might have to say to me, today, in the midst of the turmoil that is permeating our world.
And so I sat on the bench, by the little door and stared at the muddy waters of Sand Creek, feeling compelled to be there, but also feeling a bit like a fool. And then it happened.
An image appeared before me, that of the 5-inch tall Pippsywoggin Addie Brianne, who plopped herself down beside me, crossed her hands under her chin, and looked expectantly over at me with a grin.
I grinned, too, for of course it would be Addie Brianne who would show up. I remembered her story, which begins like this.
Addie Brianne is content with life. She doesn’t have any great ambition to be a dancer or a seamstress or a writer. She doesn’t have urges to gather the largest strawberries or the sweetest nectar or the shiniest pebbles. She is just content to relax and to respond to life as it comes to greet her.
Ah, but don’t think that she is lazy. No, not for a moment. Above her front door is a sign that says: THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP. And this she does. Every day. With as many of her senses of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell as she can marshal together.
Her little house hangs like a basket in the middle of a clump of willows that grow on the edge of a small farm pond where cattle come to drink, where a pair of Mallards yearly raise a brood of ducklings, and where the neighboring Irish Setter routinely comes to bark at crabs.
Because she has made it a habit to show up, she has been there to see the new calf get his first wobbly drink. She was present when the littlest duckling got swept through the drainage ditch by the sudden spring downpour, and she glimpsed the look in the Setter’s eyes when he came face to face with the giant snapping turtle.
She shows up, and because she does, opportunities for learning and growth and amazement are continually hers. The other Pips are a bit jealous of her charmed life. But, you know, the funny thing is that even though they have visited her little house in the willows many times, none of them have seemed to notice the sign above her door that says: THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.
I bent down to pick up a twig to throw into current as I contemplated Addie Brianne’s story. Now what, I said. So what if I show up? How does that change anything in this messed up world and my messy life?
As I said this, Addie jumped up and ran towards the little door at the base of the old willow tree, throwing these words over her shoulder as she entered the door, “It may not change the world but it might change you.”
I hardly had time to think about the implications of what she said when Addie was back in front of me holding a sign that said:
Keep it simple.
Keep it honest.
Those Pippsywoggins! Always with something new to challenge me! But I took Addie’s poster home with me and nailed it above my own front door. You’re welcome to make copies for yourself, if you like. I’m sure that Addie B wouldn’t mind.