maybe there's some bounce left in the old thing
Ten years ago on Halloween I bought the Red Ball on impulse at a K Mart or Target or some such place. I remember how I was feeling that day, very happy and free and full of life and hope. I was picking up candy for trick-or-treaters when I spotted the tall display of big bouncy balls at the end of an aisle of toys. They were on sale, dirt cheap, and the bright colors reminded me of how delighted I was when I got one as a small child. It was a direct and almost primeval joy. I wanted the bright red one, and managed to extract it from the pile without causing an avalanche, and tested it out right there in the store. It proved to be one of those perfect, iconic, bouncing balls, big enough to make me feel like a kid, bouncing high as my head with little effort. It was the symbol of the day, of my life at that moment, and it’s been hanging around in my house, in the living room or dining room, ever since, a big round red conceptual dot in the decor’s composition.
More precisely, it hung around until it didn’t hold air anymore, and then it was replaced three years ago by Red Ball #2, which was slightly smaller, not as bouncy, and a slightly darker red. It mostly lurks under the dining room table and gathers dust, but it’s there. Every so often I get it out and give it a couple of bounces. #2 is already losing air.
Most of the things I was hopeful for when I purchased the first red ball have materialized: I wanted to expand my creative life, I wanted to meet someone and maybe even get married again, and I wanted to just live a more interesting life. I did get far enough along with my art to have shows and sell paintings and sculptural assemblages. I did marry the guy from England that I was chatting with online in between handing out candy to trick or treaters. Life did expand in the right direction in some ways, some of it the natural result of this blog. It also constricted in other ways, as a result of health and the economy. So Red Ball #2 is probably a good symbol of things right now–simple and good, if not as bright and bouncy as it was at the start.
Sometimes I wonder whether I should replace Red Ball #2 with Red Ball #3, or if it is an icon that has outlived its significance. It feels as if a hundred years have passed in the space of ten; life could hardly be more different. The things I wish for now are very different, and have more to do with seeing my way through to a basic level of success and security, from which a lot of other good things could expand. A more appropriate icon might be a piece of large road paving equipment, or a snowplow, although that seems a bit too aggressive, not to mention expensive and not very minimalist.
No, I think I will stick with a big red bouncy ball–replacing it as needed–not only for the aesthetics, but I’d miss it if it wasn’t around. It’s a simple symbol of persistence as well as hope, a bit of constancy in a world that’s always changing in so many large and small ways. And it’s fun to give it a few bounces every now and again 🙂
Do you have something “different” hanging around that’s a symbol of something important to you?