I once read that about people who make and fold 1000 origami paper cranes. Some do it for luck or longevity or luck or wishes or hope. Some do it for love. Some do it for peace. I assume some do it for the same reason I make ferris wheels.
I make them over and over again, from tiny kits that arrive in small envelopes whenever things get difficult.
I turn the small metal tabs in. I fit the speck-like tabs into the delicate, almost invisible slots. I place 100 tiny metal pieces -like forgotten shavings- together to make each car, each strut. It’s comforting to me when I need comfort most. When life gets too large. When the world is too loud. When my skin is to raw and sensitive to be touched. It’s then that I go into this tiny world I have perfect control over.
The work is both challenging and mindless. I close a tiny door. I add a hanging car. I straighten a spindle. I imagine myself in this little world, an invisible guest on this fragile and exquisitely imperfect wheel. It does not spin exactly but the cars gently sway. One car breaks loose and plummets to the floor. I find it, a minute later, hidden in the seam of the tile and I rescue it and return it to it’s place, giving the metal tab an extra twist with my tweezers and holding my mouth just so as if I am casting a spell.
Stay put, I command in my head. You are where you belong. To everything there is a place.
And I line the pieces up into their places. I make them right. I make them fit. I put things the way they are meant to be, even if only in a tiny world that rests in the palm of my hand.
In the morning I show my daughter the shiny metal ferris wheel. She oohs and ahs and rocks the small cars, probably imagining real ferris wheels she will ride one day when she is grown.
I lay the tiny wheel down, my invisible anxieties and worries sitting calmly on each seat. I say a prayer to keep each worry in its place. To glue it there. One for “fear of going under water.” One for “one day she’ll leave me”. One for “I’ve forgotten something important that I can’t remember”. One for “paralyzed with doubts”. One for “broken”. And those small passengers all sit in silence, quieted at last, as I place the wheel with all the others. And there it will stay while I take up life again. Until, that is, the next week when I can’t think for all the worries and anxieties and angry voices screaming in my head. And then I will place last week’s empty ferris wheel on a sidewalk or tree branch for a small child to find, and I will open the thin envelope in my desk drawer and slip out the new metal sheets waiting to be cut and folded and pinned and pressed into life. Into fear. Into both.
And the wheel comes around again.
Note: I know many of you have noticed I’m not quite myself this month. I’m fine…just crawling out of a depression that has taken more out of me than usual. I’m coming back, but slowly. Thank you for being patient. Thank you for being you.