What Do You Do With A Chance? Written by Kobi Yamada and Illustrated by Mae Besom, is a insightful read on a young boy who sees a chance, and decides not to take it. The chance flutters by him, and he misses it.
The next time, he decides that he will not let a chance pass by him again, and he reaches for it as it flutters tantalizingly by him, but this time, he falls flat on his face, and is laughed at by the other children.
So, he refuses to entertain chances again. They flutter by him multiple times, but he turns his back on them. Slowly, they stop fluttering by. Time goes on, and he starts to yearn for a chance, This time, he thinks, come what may, he will grab on and go wherever the chance takes him.
The chance does arrive eventually, and it is a huge one. A bright shining illuminance that lights up everything nearby, and he jumps on, and soars watching the monochrome world around him explode in technicolor.
Like all good children’s books, this one made me wonder too.
How often have we missed chances? It is one thing for a book to beautifully illustrate a chance, but quite often the chances we miss are not always that beautifully illuminated in the landscape of our life, except perhaps in hindsight. Sometimes chances come in the guise of problems, and they transform into opportunities. Sometimes chances are so common-place you barely recognize them at all. Sometimes, a chance comes in the form of slowing down, catching a deep breath and taking a glimpse of the world around us.
Take for instance the time I was running around a lake, watching the sunset throw its myriad patterns on the lake waters. It was beautiful and fleeting. My pounding heart was pouting at this sudden enthusiasm for fitness. I myself was quite miserable. Running can be quite the mental exercise: the mind jabbers on:
Why does it have to be so hard? Really, after all this time, has it only been a mile? So slow, I could have beat myself if I had been 5!
Then, I looked at the shining lake waters and chided my brain for being such a wet sod, took a deep gulp and pushed on. But after a few miles, I stopped by my favorite pepper willow trees. I had been running around the same spot, and yet, I had not noticed so many things. It was as though my senses suddenly woke up when I stood still. I could feel the evening breezes lift off the stray tendrils of my hair, the sun’s rays seemed magical: sunset orange is a lovely color, and the way it transformed the clouds in the sky was beautiful. Breath-taking as it was, its true beauty lay in its very essence of being ephemeral.
Dandelion Wine: A Sunset is only beautiful because it doesn’t last forever. – Ray Bradbury in his book, Dandelion Wine, when discussing the Happiness Machine.
I watched the pelicans go about their evening business of co-ordinated fishing, small groups of geese were making their way back to the lake, landing together smoothly with the most melodious sounding splashes, and a fluidity of movement that would have made any pilot look on with awe.
We are lucky indeed to be able to stop and enjoy nature. As humanity huddles more and more closely in densely populated urban areas, we seem to have squeezed out these natural pleasures. For decades now, people have flocked to cities in search of livelihood. What option is there otherwise? Cities get larger, people cluster closer together physically and yet farther apart emotionally. How many city dwellers know all their neighbors?
I looked at the pelicans and geese spotting the lake as they settled down to roost for the day. There was companionship there. The pelicans were steadily drifting towards me – together, gracefully, and I could not resist going to a vantage point by the willow tree. I have always loved how these trees look like princesses, letting their tresses down in the stream – looking joyful, and serene to let the flowing water tickle the hair-tips, even as the breeze caresses their locks.
Nature, the soother, had worked her magic again, and my heart bloomed and expanded with joy. Sometimes a chance flutters by and you need to stop and take a breath to catch it.