My daughter was once given a lovely little picture book called “Ish”, by Peter H. Reynolds. It is the story of Ramon, a young boy who likes to draw, “Anytime. Anything. Anywhere”. One day though Ramon’s older brother Leon snickers at one of his works of art, saying it doesn’t look like anything. This is so hurtful, that Ramon discards his work and decides to never draw again. He can’t make anything look “right”. That is, until he discovers his little sister Marisol has created a gallery of his crumpled up art on the walls of her room. Tenderly she declares which one is her favourite. “That was supposed to be a vase of flowers,’ Ramon said, ‘but it doesn’t look like one.”

“Well, it looks vase-ISH!’ she exclaimed”.

Marisol’s simple statement changes Ramon: “[he] felt light and energized. Thinking ish-ly allowed his ideas to flow freely. He began to draw what he felt- loose lines. Quickly springing out . Without worry.”

Since re-reading this book the other night, I haven’t been able to stop considering how important thinking “ish-ly” has become in my life. Many have heard me lament that I don’t ever know how to succinctly answer the question, “how are you?”. The temptation so often is to say “okay”. However “okay” doesn’t really cut it. Okay presumes too much. The truth is, I’m okay-ish. I’m basking in the wonderment that PNC is not just surviving, but growing; I’m grieving death; I’m enjoying my family; I’m mostly trusting that there will be enough money to pay the bills- sometimes not so much; I’m tired AND I’m invigorated. I am no one thing.

I am also learning to embrace doing things ish-ly at PNC. We are no longer housed in a piece of the neighbourhood, we are more fully inhabiting it. The challenges of this (and there are many) do not outweigh the benefits. Our community is expanding as we keep thinking outside of the box.

At the end of the book, Ramon is sprawled out on a rock, his feet dipped in a lake, the sun shining on his face. “One spring morning, Ramon had a wonderful feeling. It was a feeling that even ish words and ish drawings could not capture. He decided NOT to capture it. Instead, he simply savoured it…”

May I learn to do that too.

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