Friday, May 6, 2011

LIFE LESSON FROM A LITTLE GREEN DUDE MADE OF CLAY

A short, simple thought for a busy Friday:

Flexibility. 


It's important.

If you can't manage the physical kind*, at least strive for the mental kind. It will make your life easier, not to mention a lot more pleasant for those around you.

Mental suppleness is essential in a storyteller. For the rigid, a trip down the Great What-If Path is pretty monotonous. Loosen up, and the scenery gets infinitely more fascinating.

Which is why I've adopted what DD tells me is the unofficial motto of the Navy:

Semper Gumby! 

That translates loosely as "Always Flexible!" (Because, you know, Gumby was the most flexible little dude ever.) A necessary quality when you're in the service, and can be whipped around the world at a moment's notice. But I find it also holds me in good stead whenever I sit down in front of the keyboard and try to create a story out of the chaos between my ears.

*For instance -- and I know this will be difficult for you to believe, but trust me, it's true -- that is not me in the picture above. Not that I couldn't get into that position if I wanted to. I could. But it would require a trip to the emergency room to get me back out of it.

Oops. Almost forgot the obligatory ending question that (who are we kidding?) is meant to inspire comments, so we don't feel like we're talking to an empty room:

Are you as flexible as you'd like to be? 

Or, alternately, if that question is too personal:

Did you watch Gumby as a child? (If that's too personal, I respectfully suggest you, um, Gumby up a little.) 



25 comments:

Patty Blount said...

I do remember Gumby! I also remember Eddie Murphy's Saturday Night Live take-off of Gumby!

I'd add that flexibility also has a role in feedback and revision, not just creating something out of chaos. Of which I have oodles :)

Cool post!

abby mumford said...

(1) WOW, new blog design. fancy!

(2) i'm the least physically flexible person i know. i still have nightmares about the "V sit and reach" test from the Presidential Fitness Test in high school.

(3) i'm very mentally flexible, until i reach my limit and then look out because things will start snapping, namely ME at YOU.

Summer Frey said...

I did watch Gumby, though I didn't like it. I still have a little Gumby "action figure" from the 80's.

I've been doing yoga for years and years, and I can still barely touch my toes. My torso is pretty flexible, but my legs just...aren't.

Mentally, though, I'm like one of those Cirque du Soleil contortionists. ;)

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I love Gumby. And I love the Navy. How cool that you brought them both together for me here today.

Anyway. I once had a Gumby that I carried to New Orleans and photographed everywhere...he was my own personal traveling garden gnome (way before the travel website one was cool, I'll have you know!).

Am I flexible? Well...I can roll with the punches, as long as I know what's happening...I can deal with anything that comes my way, I just like to know what's coming. It's the foggy future that gets me all stuck in a knot!

Linda G. said...

Patty -- Oh, I remember that Eddie Murphy bit, too! Gumby really invaded our culture, huh?

And you're totally right about flexibility's role in feedback and revision. Keeping your mind open makes the whole process much less painful.

Abby -- (1) Yeah, I've been experimenting. Don't be surprised if you see more changes. I haven't quite found a design I really love yet. (2) I used to be flexible enough, but alas. Sitting at a computer for hours on end doesn't appear to be conducive to bending your body into weird shapes. (3) Well, you DO have to have limits; otherwise, your mind may as well be Jell-O. :)

Summer -- Hey, that Gumby figure might be worth a fortune on eBay. ;) And I personally feel that mental flexibility is way more important than physical. And I'm not just saying that because I have no physical flexibility. (Okay, maybe I am. But still. It COULD be true.)

Teri Anne -- Me too, re Gumby and the Navy. :) And try not to worry about that foggy future. Your flexibility will see you through whatever it throws at you. :)

Kerry Schafer said...

Oh, I loved Gumby! Used to watch him all the time when I was a kid.

I have to be brain flexible or my job would slay me. Unfortunately, by the time I get home from work it's often twisted into so many knots it no longer can bed in any direction.

Kristina said...

I never watched Gumby but I had one. As far as flexibility goes, my body and my mind match: in some ways I'm very flexible (example: hamstrings) but my back is too injured to be.

Steph Schmidt said...

Gumby was a jerk that could jump into books and remind me I couldn't. The scars of my childhood linger terribly.

I like to think I'm mentally flexible. Lately I'm doubting that and thinking I'm just really patient.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

I'm flexible in some areas and not in others...I'm working on it. Really!!!!

Steve Clayworth said...

Q: What's green and arrogant?
A: Bryant Gumby.

Trisha Leigh said...

Ah, Gumby. Memories.

My grandfather could stand in a doorway and put one foot on the top of the doorjamb. He owned a restaurant for many years and his patrons would always request this little parlor trick. It's genetic, apparently, the flexibility.

In writing I have to problem being flexible. In life, it's harder to let loose of control, but I try.


Nice post.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'd have to join you in the ER.

I used to watch Gumby but Monster Child (who has a dvd) says he's stoopid. I prefer Eddie Murphy. (My name is Gumby, damn it.)

As for writing.... is this a trick question? I am NOT flexible. Until I have to be.

Sierra Gardner said...

I do remember Gumby. My brother was telling me a funny story the other day about a classmate who mixed up Gumby with Ghandi. =)

Linda G. said...

Kerry -- Yeah, that is a danger with over-stretching. Gotta watch out for the cramp reaction.

Kristini -- I read somewhere that an ungodly percentage of people have back problems by the time they're approaching middle age. Seems this whole walking upright thing is a little tough on the infrastructure. ;)

Steph -- LOL! Not that you're bitter about Gumby or anything... ;)

Kimmie -- S-t-r-e-t-c-h....!

Steve -- *Groans*

Trisha -- Wow. I'm impressed with your grandfather, and by extension, you. I couldn't have done that even at my most flexible!

Anne -- Yeah, I can see where Gumby would seem dumb compared to the cartoon fare available to kiddos now. And as long as you're flexible when you have to be, that's all that matters, right? :)

Sierra -- LOL! That would be quite a mix-up!

Candyland said...

I wish I could be a bit more flexible but I have a hard time letting go of things at times!

Linda G. said...

Candyland -- Being persistent (i.e., holding onto things) is an important part of life in general, and the writing biz in particular, too. The key is learning when to hold on and when to (flexibly) let go. It's all about finding the right balance, isn't it?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Flexible? Hmmm, I'm not sure my body was all that flexible when it was still considered flexible, if ya know what I mean. Nowadays, I still try, but the flesh is freaky weak. The mind, on the other hand, is another matter. Lots of flexibility there. In fact, if my mind were any more open, I'm afraid my brains would fall out. Oh, and some Army dudes use "Semper gumby", too. One of our former leaders of Army MARS used to put that at the end of all his emails. Love it! Take care, and Happy Mother's Day!

Monica B.W. said...

If you ask me if I'm flexible, I'd say, yeah. Totally. Now, if you ask my husband? Well, just don't ask my husband, okay? LOL

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm...semi flexible. I do like a routine but I can go with the flow usually. :)

I do remember Gumby!

Linda G. said...

Susan -- LOL! Well, better to risk your brain falling out than to have a mind so closed is suffocates. ;) And I guess Semper Gumby applies to all our armed services -- they all demand an extraordinary amount of flexibility. Happy Mother's Day to you, too! :)

Monica -- LOL! Gotcha. ;)

Jennifer -- You sound like me. I do like my routine, but I can be pried out of it when necessary. :)

L'Aussie said...

Hi LInda. I'd just overindulged in a mother's day lunch and i saw that flexible girl and groaned. If only...

Romantic Friday Writers - first challenge - Dire Moments

Al said...

I am not nearly as flexible as I would like.

Al said...

I never saw Gumby until my kids were watching it. Hated it with a passion!

blackwatertown said...

We didn't have Gumby in Ireland or the UK - but we had similar little fella called Morph, who I think was orange. He was the creation of either an Aardman forerunner or TV artist Tony Hart (from Vision On), or both.

But I like the motto Semper Gumby. I think I will adopt it myself.

(BTW - came to you via Ten Minute Missive)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I'll admit that I *remember* Gumby, but I didn't watch him. I thought his voice was annoying.

But yes, flexibility is essential in a writer. Otherwise you end up fighting with your characters over the steering wheel of a wildly careening car. (No, I don't watch too many movies. Why do you ask?)

Writers need to realize that while they might be the author, they are not necessarily in charge. Blogging about that next week, in fact.

Great minds think alike!