I am a serious person—at least when I’m not being the Mad Hatter. I have a melancholy temperament, love solitude, and am usually the one saying the most serious thing in a discussion. I’ve learned to laugh, but it hasn’t been easy.
I have discovered, however, the Otter Factor. Otters are playful animals. When I think of them I envision their long, skinny bodies slipping down mudslides or cavorting in the water in playful circles. I have a tiny bit of otter in me. However, when I get with certain friends—one who visited last weekend—I become an otter looking for the next opportunity to slide and splash into the water. The otter in us both is multiplied exponentially.
My friend has visited me several times in the past few years—years that have been filled with heartache and sorrow for her. She took care of her husband for twelve years as he suffered a rare form of Parkinson’s disease. She watched him fade, weaken, and slowly die. Last year he passed away. A few years ago, when she was approaching the bottom of her emotional barrel, she came to visit.
I decided before she came that we were going to play. We were going to put the top down on my convertible and let our hair blow in the wind. We were going to watch movies, pop popcorn, and search for loveliness. She needed a deep infusion of beauty and laughter. And that’s what we did.
Debbie is a whole lot like me in temperament—a writer, a person of prayer, and serious about life and its mission. When we got together this last time, the Otter Factor became exponential in both of us. We laughed like schoolgirls at everything, and the visit became one long spend-the-night party mixed with two days of conferences, several prayer sessions, and a Jane Eyre marathon.
As we were headed out to pray with a friend on that Sunday (the serious side of us), we put the top down on the convertible, laughed at silly things, and about being otters.
We did the same thing a few hours later as we sat down at our computers to do some writing. We clapped our hands (or paws), as otters might do, giggled at one another, and let the words flow.
The Mad Hatter