I Can Believe it’s Not Butter

I Can Believe it’s Not Butter explores the concepts of wonder and imagination as they apply to one of the author’s cherished childhood memories.

As the weather changes and back-to-school commercials begin to appear on the T.V., memories of childhood come rushing back: last-minute trips to the Gurnee pool, feverish trips to make the most of summer, and an excitement (not shared by my peers) to finally get back in the classroom. August was always a month marked by cramming in the most of the last month of summer while preparing for the year to come. One memory which I hadn’t thought about in years made its way back to me this week. It made me smile so I thought it might be a nice one to share.

Several years ago, my father build a working fountain in our backyard. Although it has since fallen into disrepair, the fountain worked beautifully at first. Typically, the steady trickle of water would fill our yard from April to August, until the last warm day passed and the fountain would be drained for the winter. So each year before my father would shut it down, my brother Vince and I decided to make use of it.

From within the depths of the chaotic Tupperware cupboard, my brother and I would pick choose a vessel: I learned quickly that Country Crock is most reliable in terms of stability and buoyancy. Next, we needed a suitable mast. The first choice was always my mother’s bamboo skewers which, when not being used for cooking or kebabs, were the perfect height and weight, relative to the container. Sticks provided a good alternative despite being aesthetically less pleasing. A sheet of printer paper, carefully cut and colored on, provided both the sails and flag. After a quick intervention with some Scotch tape, our vessels were deemed sea-worthy and so were sent off on the waves. We would float them for hours, laughing as the stone bombs we’d thrown began to weigh them down until the water finally claimed them.

The memories of times like these can be somewhat evasive– they sail on the vast sea of thoughts and emotions that swirl perpetually in our minds, oftentimes becoming lost as the waves grow too large. But when the water begins to calm and we find ourselves not thinking much of anything, they manage to slip their way back to the forefront, as reliable and buoyant as a Country Crock container. Just like life, the problems we face pile up and begin to weigh us down. We are like boats, slowly filling with water, smiling as we begin to go down. The weight left behind oftentimes lends us with a greater control and navigation of the path to come, so long as we don’t let our problems pull us under. In the years I’ve spent sending my boats onto the open sea, I’ve learned that it only takes a helping hand to lift our vessel from the depths and allow it to float calmly on.

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