The Colorful Ball
A story for our young grandchildren,
Christina and Scott
Did you ever wonder where stories come from? Some are just dreams. But others really happen around you all the time. You must just have the open eyes or mind, and the right feeling in your heart to see and understand the stories. One day, you may see a ball roll along the street. It may be just a ball running along the street. But when you see it right and really understand the ball, then all of a sudden you may feel that there actually is a story. That happened to me just a few days ago. Let me tell you how it was.
We live on Westcott Road in Princeton, New Jersey. There are many tall trees on our street and nice green lawns in front of all the friendly houses.
One evening, a few days ago, I went for a long walk. It was very windy. As I walked home, I could already see our house at the end of the road.
But what else did I see some distance in front of me? It was a colorful, little plastic ball bouncing along the street, driven by the wind. The ball was one of those multicolored, inflatable, plastic balls that you sometimes play with on the beach—yellow and red and green and blue.
The ball bounced along, from one side of the street to the other. Sometimes it stopped for a moment, as if it were lost and did not know where to go.
I walked faster, and soon I had caught up with the little ball.
As I came close, the wind must have changed. The little ball turned around, as if it had heard me coming, and slowly bounced toward me. It stopped close to my feet, and I thought it was looking at me. Did the little ball want to ask me something? Had the little ball gotten lost? Did it now want to ask me where its home was, which way it had to go?
I didn’t know what to say. So I walked away, and the little ball looked quite sad. Then it tried to follow me, slowly, as if it were tired. But I walked faster than it could bounce along.
As I kept walking, I thought that the little ball must certainly belong to some children. I remembered that a new family with children had arrived on our street just a few days earlier. They had moved into the house I had walked by a minute ago.
So, I turned around and walked back to the little ball. I picked it up and said, “Little ball, I will carry you back. But then, you must sit still and wait until the children come to look for you.”
That’s what I did. I carried the ball back to where a nice bush stood on one of the lawns. That bush could protect the ball from the wind so the ball would really stay there and not roll away again.
“Good-bye, little ball,” I said, “Wait here. I hope the children find you before it turns dark.”
Then I walked down the street to our home. I went in and had dinner. Later, when it was already night, I looked out the door to see how the weather was. What did I see? I could not believe it! That little, colorful ball was there. It must have been blown along the street to follow me and now it was sitting right next to our door, as if waiting to be let in!
What could I do? I picked it up and carried it in.
Next morning, after we had breakfast, I said to the ball, “Now you must go home.” So I carried it back to the other end of the street toward the house where I hoped the new children lived.
I was smart. Before setting it down, I let some air out of the ball. That way the ball was not as round anymore. It could not roll very well, and the wind could not drive it away so easily. The poor little half-deflated ball looked wrinkled and old—just as I sometimes look in the mirror in the morning; after all, I am seventy-five years old.
I left the ball behind, sitting there somewhat heavily on the lawn—not much bounce in it any longer.
I went home. I was quite sad that I didn’t have the friendly colorful ball around any longer. Would the children find it where I had left it sitting?
I looked out our door many times that day, hoping to see the ball. If it had come just once more, I would have been glad, and I would have taken it in. I would have blown it up nicely, so it would look young again. Then I would have carried it up to the big playroom in the attic where all the other playthings and toys are, always waiting for you.
The next day, I went back to see what had happened to the little ball. It was no longer where I had put it. But later in the day, I saw some very happy children run along the street.
Every morning now, when I look into the mirror, I still think of the little ball, how I had left it sitting on that lawn.
But then I also think of you. You would have blown the ball up again, so that it was young and round and could happily bounce along ever after.
Now, go out for a walk. Look around. Do you see something? Maybe you will see a ball rolling. But maybe you will see another child walking along. If you really see what happens—and if you understand in your heart how the other child feels—then, maybe you have found a new story to tell.
Please call me and tell me your story as soon as you can.