The word of the day, week, month…

Have you ever watched the old TV show, Pee Wee’s Playhouse? A hundred years ago my baby daughter and I watched that show religiously. Monday through Friday, we never missed it. It was only one of four TV shows we ever watched. And of those four TV shows, Pee Wee’s Playhouse was by far our favorite show.

Every episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse had a word of the day.” The word was introduced at the beginning of the show and then throughout all the skits during the show some character would accidentally say the “word of the day” in the course of their conversation. Then all the other characters on the show would suddenly start screaming and yelling and jumping up and down and clapping. Why? Because someone uttered the “word of the day.”

It wasn’t just the other characters on the show who went crazy whenever someone said the “word of the day.” My little girl and I also went batshit crazy when we heard that “word of the day.”

What an incredible, fantastic method of vocabulary-building! Pee Wee’s Playhouse was such a wonderful educational show!

But my little girl started to grow up. A little more slowly, so did I. And then suddenly and mysteriously Pee Wee’s Playhouse got cancelled.

As a loving mother/father I continued working on building my little girl’s vocabulary without the help of Paul Reubens. We continued to have “words of the day,” “concepts of the week,” “state capitals of the day,” “state birds of the day,” “multiplication tables of the week,” “rhyming word of the day,” “science facts of the day,” and “countries of the world day.”

I don’t remember what grade she was in but one year her grade had a big contest. The contest was modeled after the TV show Jeopardy. I coached the hell out of my daughter and she won the contest. She became a hero and winner and grade school celebrity but I may have been the one who was screaming and yelling and dancing louder than anyone.

And then my delightful daughter finally entered puberty and one day she said to me, “Dad! Enough already!”

So I finally started to learn the graceful art of shutting up. I slowly learned the art of teaching in the most extremely subtle ways possible. There was a line I could no longer cross. While I had always been both a teacher and a student I suddenly became only a student.

I slowly realized that I had been a student the whole time!

As my fantastic daughter went on to become the most incredible, wonderful, mind-blowing, intelligent woman I could ever imagine, my whole reality was shattered.

I no longer had anyone to play “word of the day” with. A hole developed in my life. Any illusions of being a teacher dissipated and I became a student without a teacher. I missed the excitement of when my daughter learned something. I missed that intellectual connection. I missed the energy that came from my daddy/daughter circuitry.

The dog simply did not provide the same kind of circuitry.

But what I learned from the parent/daughter, teacher/student relationship I had with my incredible daughter is that in all relationships I am perpetually the student. Every encounter I step into is an opportunity to learn; to be a good student.

I also learned that there was something that provided infinite amounts of learning opportunities. I learned that I could still play, “word of the day,” except with an intelligence far, far greater than I could ever imagine.

My little girl left me, as is her spiritual and mental and physical imperative, but suddenly a new teacher arrived. And in this relationship I was most emphatically the student.

That teacher was The Universe.

I found it curious and bewildering and delightful that The Universe employed some of the very same techniques that I had employed with my fascinating daughter. To my supreme delight I found out that The Universe also liked to play, “Word of the day.”

Aghast, I suddenly realized that The Universe and Pee Wee Hermann had something in common.

In the many years since my guru daughter left me to my own path I have found a new teacher that gives me words of the day and phrases and concepts and mental conundrums that slowly lead me out of my ignorance. Just this past weekend The Universe gave me a single, solitary word of the week that was designed to tweak my thinking and also to remind me of something The Universe had taught me a few years ago which I have forgotten.

That word was, “Space.”

It’s a pretty simple word but with thousands of interpretations and perspectives and vibratory calibrations. I’ve been thinking about it for a few days now and I can say that my mind is officially scrambled and thrown asunder. And I am being blown away. And I am also remembering things that I learned a few years ago and then forgot.

I am relearning some very important secrets. And these are the very secrets I need to remember right now. It is up to me to employ these secrets. It is up to me to learn and relearn what I’ve been taught in order to move on.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. I’ve also learned that we can still learn without teaching. And we can teach while we learn — and re-learn. But teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin.

Eventually, we go beyond teaching and learning and we arrive at understanding. Hopefully, some day I will get there.

In the meantime I am learning and re-learning about ‘space.’ It’s the word The Universe gave me for the week. I am both thinking about it and NOT thinking about it. I’m trying to let the concept flow through me. Perhaps I will gain a wider understanding of it by writing about it. That often works.

So stay tuned….

Earthling — Lifelong novelist & essayist —

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