When I was a child, I decided to dig a tunnel to China. Tales of the endeavorâ€™s high failure rates had reached my ears, but I reasoned this was due to a lack of tenacity and perhaps to digging too close to the earthâ€™s hot center.Â So if I just kept digging, I reasoned, and if I curved my tunnel once it started to get warm, I felt I could find success where others had not. I chose a spot in our backyard, by the edge of the garden, and started digging.
I laugh to think of it now, but what almost makes me laugh harder is that, to my recollection, I never thought about what Iâ€™d do once I broke the surface of Chinese soil and emerged, a small, dirt-covered, English-speaking girl. I must have imagined the moment of victory, and wondered where exactly in China Iâ€™d surface (the center of Beijing, a rice paddy in the country, etc.), but most of my memories are of the digging itself.
I could take you back, I think, and show you the very spot where I started my dig in that suburban backyard, and I could tell you where and how I sat while I dug, and how I worried about inadvertently dissecting worms one afternoon after a rain, and how my friend from across the street (the one I would later share my â€œthe lunch ladies have been taken over by aliensâ€ theory with in a genuine effort to save her mother, a lunch lady) sat near me while I worked, giving me a look I now recognize as apprehension. What drove me to start was the idea of creating a passageway to China, but what quickly engrossed me instead was the dig itself. The initial goal lost its importance.
But sometimes, when I ask, there doesnâ€™t seem to be much of a reason other than that they just feel like heaving some sand around. And while it doesnâ€™t always happen this way, sometimes theyâ€™ll spend the better part of an afternoon, absorbed in the digging itself.
It was a bit chilly today for doing much digging on the beach, at least for my tastes. Instead, I sat inside this afternoon, wrapped in a blanket (LCB thinks Iâ€™m being dramatic). I sipped my coffee and watched the palm trees moving in the wind, noting how the sunlight shimmered off the leaves as they shook. Iâ€™d sat down intending to start writing a fantasy story Iâ€™d promised my kids, but I never actually started. I should have at least salvaged a small measure of productivity by taking pictures of the palms for the blog. But instead, I tree-watched, a pursuit even less constructive than digging to China.