ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By
Joseph Walker

GRASSHOPPERS IN THE FAMILY

It’s no secret that Anita and I were not exactly thrilled when Andrea announced her intention to marry Adam.

Please don’t misunderstand.  We always liked Adam.  What was not to like?  He was a good guy, always very kind and gracious, and clearly in love with Andrea.  He was also a gifted actor with a terrific singing voice.  He was lively and fun and personable – a great addition to any social gathering.

But as a potential husband to our daughter . . . well, we had our concerns.  Because he is . . . you know . . . an actor, and the way I’ve always seen it, the theater is a nice place to visit, but how are you going to make a living there?  Even back in my acting days (and I was never as talented as Adam, but I have tread a few boards here and there in my time) I considered acting something you did for fun – not for profit.

As I considered the possibility of Adam as a son-in-law, Aesop’s fable about the ant and the grasshopper always came to mind.  You know the story: an ant works industriously throughout the summer while the grasshopper laughs and plays and dances and sings.  But when the summer ends and harsh winter begins to rage, the ant is comfortably ensconced in the home he has worked so hard to build while the grasshopper shivers outside in the cold.

As a father, I wanted Andrea to marry a nice, normal, secure ant.  But Adam was definitely a grasshopper.  I should also mention that Andrea was a grasshopper too – a talented and beautiful grasshopper, to be sure, but a grasshopper nonetheless.  That was a big part of the problem, as far as I was concerned.  They had a great time together, sharing so many dreams and aspirations, but it didn’t seem to me that the couple would have an anchor, someone to deal with the day-to-day realities of life in the real world.  The way I saw it, somebody had to be the ant in this relationship, or they were in for some long, cold, frightening winters, shivering in the cold.

Against my objective concerns they married. For six years now their lives have been nomadic, as they move from place to place in pursuit of their dream.  But these two theater gypsies are happy and joyful in their pursuit, and they have done precious little shivering in the cold – and not just because they live in Florida.  Turns out Adam is also talented when it comes to budgeting and saving money.  He has taught Andrea how to stretch a dollar, and makes sure they live frugally – just in case the next acting gig doesn’t come as soon as they would like.

Imagine that: a disciplined grasshopper.  Go figure.

So we have a couple of grasshoppers in the family.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty good thing.  This was especially evident during a family gathering last week, when a lot of the planned outdoor activities had to be canceled because of inclement weather.  As far as the adults were concerned, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It allowed us to sit and visit and catch up on all the latest news of the family – oh, and to eat lots of really good food.

But for the little ones, the great indoors quickly became . . . not so great.  Little legs ached to run and jump and play, and little voices yearned to be loud and boisterous.  Too-long-suppressed energy was bursting to be released, which resulted in restless children and frustrated parents.  Which is why it was such a relief to everyone when Adam and Andrea led the children in some fun and energetic activities, including a dance concert featuring something called “The Dance of the Trolls.  I’ll never forget the image of Adam dancing joyfully, exuberantly with his nieces and nephew.  And then doing it again.  And again.  And again.

It’s a great image, one that I hope I’ll remember when I start thinking that one kind of person is more valuable, more worthwhile, more useful than another.

Or that ants are better than grasshoppers.

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— © Joseph Walker

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Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!