I needed to listen to something light the other day because my thoughts had been immersed for too long in serial killers. I go for the crime drama shows and had just finished the last episode of Mindhunter on Netflix – two seasons about the early days (1970s) of the FBI’s “Behavioral Science Unit,” a department that studied patterns and traits of the baddest of the bad to help find and identify others of their ilk. The second season concerns the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-81. It’s heavy stuff.
Not yet ready for bed after I turned off the TV, I was curious how much of the show was based on fact so I googled Atlanta Child Murders. Seems the writers of Mindhunter got a lot right.
That led to curiosity about the renamed “Behavioral Analysis Unit” founded in 1972 at Quantico by real-life agents Robert Ressler and John Douglas. That led to a piece on the qualifications for being an FBI agent (what does it take to get that job) which I couldn’t/wouldn’t even consider for various reasons, which then led to an article about the most notorious of the serial killers, the Top Ten, the ones that shaped the initial studies and led to criminal profiling that is still used today.
Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, Jeffrey Dahmer and others – these almost alien men committed crimes that have no words strong enough to describe. Ghastly, shocking, horrifying, evil, wicked, despicable, heinous, demonic, atrocious, monstrous, brutal – all these words seem pale to me when examining the crimes. This is not the kind of stuff you should be reading before going to bed if you want good dreams.
So I finally said to myself, Yeah, something lighter maybe.
A gardening podcast perhaps? My gourds had reminded me that the garden was not a complete failure this year.
My neighbor Jennifer took some that I offered and had fun with her daughter Anna Lane.
But I didn’t find a gardening podcast. Instead I stumbled on something called The Slow Home. No, it’s not about the homeowner’s intellectual deficiencies. And it’s not about how fast we move (or don’t) when we are exhausted from shoveling too much concrete that is masquerading as dirt. It’s about purposefully, mindfully adjusting your pace, your home, your life to make room for the stuff that matters to you.
It was a lovely alternative to serial killers, I must say. And an intriguing topic.
Taking our time, enjoying the moments, not in a hurry – do we do this as much as we should? Thinking about such things reminded of some of the scenes I like best in some of the children’s books I like best. (These are for you, Mona!)
Such as when Frog and Toad stare at the garden plot together and Frog gently suggests that the garden will grow in its own good time.
Or when Fern and Avery take turns swinging in the barn door in that famous summer of Charlotte’s Web.
Or when the boy plays in the bracken with The Velveteen Rabbit.
Or during One Morning in Maine when Sal and her sister Jane have to wait just a bit longer for their ice cream cones because of “Mr. Ferd Clifford and Mr. Oscar Staples, who were sitting in the store talking about trapping lobsters and how the fish were biting.”
Or in Blueberries for Sal when Little Sal “picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail…kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” (Oh, may we take the time to hear the kuplinks and the kuplanks and the kuplunks in our lives!)
Or when, “early every morning, Francois, the keeper’s son, stopped on his way to school to say, ‘Bonjour, Happy Lion.’”
Or when Madeleine is not afraid of mice.
Or when Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel are peacefully settled in the humble cellar of the new town hall and Mrs. McGillicuddy brings a hot apple pie 😊
I was just reading to Ellie and Nelson last week, so I’ve got these lovely, peaceful images fresh in my mind.
Frog and Toad and Fern and Avery and the Velveteen Rabbit and Sal and Jane and Francois and the Happy Lion and Madeleine and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel make me wonder about “the company we keep.” For years I read these books and many others to my kids, over and over again, and now I read them to my grandchildren when they come visit. The pages are soft from many, many turnings. The images are familiar old friends that warm my heart and gentle my day.
We all have something, I hope, Something Lighter, Something Balanced, Joyful, Peaceful, Delightful for those times when Something Gruesome or Tragic or Angry wants to win the day and snag every part of us and paint the world all wrong. What’s your Something Lighter? I know some of your answers: fishing, golf, painting, woodworking, writing poems, cooking, playing games, watching the Patriots (!), playing Wordfeud or Rummikub, walking the dog… What else?