When I went to the World’s Fair at age five — back when it was in New York City — I was dazzled especially by one display: a ride into darkness that opened up to light panoramas of dolls dressed in clothing from dozens of countries, all singing in various languages, “It’s a Small World After All.” Maybe it was how the dolls were illuminated in the darkness, or how there were dozens of them. Maybe it was their little Flamenco or Native American or Mongolian costumes, but for whatever reason, that display stayed with me as the most amazing thing I had seen up to that point in my life.
I can almost hear those possessed dolls singing in the background these days, given the unworldly and right-in-this-world small worldness of late. Here are a few:
When my visiting German daughter, Gesa, here for a month as an exchange student, met a friend, Sally, who graciously offered her horses for Gesa to ride last month (Gesa is a great lover of horses, and a daily rider of her own horse back home), it turned out that one of Sally’s horses and Gesa’s horse had the same grandfather horse. Not only were the horses the same breed, but the same immediate family, and of course, we then discovered a well-traveled Lubeck (near Gesa’s home), Germany and Kansas route, filled by several horse lovers and breeders who all knew each other (the woman who owned the stable where Sally’s horses live also knows Gesa’s uncle).
Last week, when going out to dinner before my reading at Eighth Day Books in Wichita, I was lucky enough to be joined by my friends, Victoria and Kurt, and my cousin-in-law Dennis. We looked over the menus of Pha Hot — great Vietnamese restaurant by the way — waiting for my son, Daniel, to join us with one of his professors who was also joining us. Then Daniel and his philosophy and physics professor Don came in, and it turned out that Don, Victoria and Kurt were good friends, and attended the same Orthodox Church, and the owner of the bookstore where I was reading was Don’s godfather. “You know Daniel?” Don asked Victoria. “I saw him be born,” Victoria answered. Dennis also knew the folks in the Orthodox community.
Now I’m in Ames, Iowa, sitting in a comfortable bed, surrounded with blankets, and looking out at the deep woods surrounding this CSA (community sustainable agriculture) farm and guest house. Turns out the owners know people I know in Lawrence who do CSA and market garden work, are well-acquainted with the bioregional movement, and subscribe to Permaculture Activist, where I recently had an article.
While I’m a lot older than five, and those dolls seem more demonic than charming now when I picture them, I can still hear them singing in my mind, little lit-up surprises that you find in the dark when you turn a corner.