“Cut off my hands, I’ll use my feet. Cut off my feet, I’ll use my teeth. Cut off my head, and I will haunt you.”—Me
This was my response when I found out the M&O Override for the school district in which I teach did not pass. It also has become one my life’s mottos. The idea itself has a rather obscure beginning in my life. I guess, looking back, I was always a pessimist.
Most eight-year-olds are happy to ride their Big Wheels, climb trees, and play stick ball (at least that is what we did before video games were invented). For some reason, when I was eight years old it occurred to me that I might someday lose a limb. Maybe I caught a glimpse of some movie my parents were watching that involved a character missing appendages. Perhaps one Sunday night, while that infernal time piece ticked down the seconds until bedtime via 60 Minutes, I caught sight of a Morley Safer piece on severed limbs. I honestly don’t know where I got the idea, but it bothered me.
Being right-handed I started to wonder how I would write or draw if I lost that hand. Naturally, I began practicing using my left hand. I spent unmentionable hours practicing writing my name. I tried print and cursive both until I could write my name legibly (barely). Whew! I was covered. Or so I thought.
Then one day it dawned on me that if I could lose one hand, I could very well lose both. This threw me into fits for a time until I decided that maybe, just maybe, with lots of practice, I could write with my toes. Thus began several hours of my practicing writing with my toes using pen, using pencils, and even the occasional crayon.
You can imagine where it went from there. What if I lose my feet? For days then I practiced writing with my teeth. But what if I lost my teeth? Then gums would work I guess. Eventually I got to the point where I concerned myself with decapitation and decided that if that happened I probably wouldn’t be doing much writing anyway. As a ghost, however, it might be nice to haunt someone…especially anyone who was responsible for the loss of one of my body parts.
Put aside the question as to why an eight year old would concern herself with such things. Why do eight-year-olds concern themselves with anything? The bottom line is that it taught me a couple of things: One, with practice I can do just about anything I set my mind to. Two, once I get an idea in my head I need to see it through to the end. Three, the whole experience is a good metaphor for life and the idea that one must never give up no matter what. Four, I probably should have been in counseling from an early age.
So I guess this is how life mottos are made…at least mine. And I have to say that the idea has played a part at several times in my life.