The Importance of Communication
As a young child I was blessed with a vivid imagination, which allowed for hours upon hours of self propelled entertainment in my backyard and in my room. Growing up as an asthmatic who was allergic to pretty much everything (except food), I spent a fair amount of time alone or indoors. Having a great imagination really helped to make those hours not seem so lonely as it often brought my dolls to life. They were: the audience for my concerts and theatrical performances; the students for my lessons; the patrons for my restaurant; the customers for my store; the patients in my ER and the citizens of my town! The walls of my bedroom would easily transform into the backdrop for any one of the aforementioned scenarios. When in the backyard, (on days that weren’t to cold and when the air didn’t have too much pollen, mold or rag weed), the adventures were even better! There was a large Weeping Willow tree that I loved to climb and pretend that I was either a pirate on a ship, looking over the sea, or that I lived in a prehistoric jungle, charged with keeping watch for dinosaurs to protect my village! I also greatly enjoyed my swing set, where I would turn on my black portable AM radio, (pulling the long antenna up to get the best reception), and swing for quite literally hours upon hours singing song after song at the top of my lungs!
Well let me tell you, while my imagination truly was a gift, it did also get me into my fair share of trouble and often caused distress that was completely unnecessary. I would get an idea into my head and adding my imagination to it, was like adding fertilizer to the soil where seeds are planted – in no time things could grow and become quite dramatic between my ears! One such example of this happened around 1976, when my family had taken a vacation to Jekyll Island, GA. It was a bit of a change because we always took our summer vacations to Panama City Beach, FL. Either way, I was happy simply because I loved the beach so much. On this particular trip however I was listening to my dad talk in the car and something in his voice sounded different, (he had cleared his throat a couple times, but it still sounded slightly off), and the idea came into my mind at that very moment, “What if my dad…isn’t my dad at all?” Well, there you have it ~ the seed was planted!
You see, by this point in my life, (as a young television enthusiast), I had long been exposed to weekly shows like: Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and the Land of the Lost – with those creepy Sleestaks. So for some time an idea had taken root in my subconscious, but now was all I could think of as I listened to the change in my dad’s voice…ALIENS! As we rode along in the car it all started to make sense: My dad had ALWAYS smoked cigarettes, but now he DIDN’T anymore! My dad always took us to Panama City Beach, FL for summer vacation, but THIS dad was taking us to a place called, (dun..dun…dunnn), Jekyll Island! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… “I think my Dad’s an ALIEN!” My mind began to race as I looked at my sister and my mom – poor dears, they had no idea! What was I going to do? What could I do? As we pulled into the hotel parking lot I resolved that I would watch him, as I suspected that this must be the beginning of perhaps an alien takeover and that Jekyll Island was where my alien dad was going to take my mom, sister and I to be swapped out for alien replacements!
That first night I tossed and turned, wondering when this could have happened to my REAL dad, and what it would be like to be replaced by an alien me – it was all just to horrible! The next day we were at the pool and playing, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it. That evening it all came to a head when he, (my alien dad), asked me to go for a walk with him on the beach. My heart began to race, (trying to think of what to say to get out of what surely would be my alien swapping), but all I heard come out of my mouth was “OK”. After all, I loved walking on the beach and I loved my dad…and this alien dad just looked SO MUCH like him! We walked over to the boardwalk that lead to the beach and I dragged behind him, watching to see if he walked differently – gazing at the beach ahead and wondering, “Will this be the last time I will see this world?” Just then he turned back, (smiling), with his hand extended to me and said, “Come on honey, what are you doing? Hold my hand, let’s go!” As I reached for his hand I thought, “Goodbye world”…but then…our feet hit the sand…we walked and we walked. Time passed and he told me funny things that made me laugh and slowly I realized, “He’s not an alien – that’s MY DAD!!!”
It’s funny though: How many times have we complicated our days, our relationships, our lives in general by not simply communicating our concerns? Surely a great deal of stress, conflict, drama and yes, even heart burn and ulcers, could be avoided by this simple sanity saving action.
© 2014 Rebecca Balko