Sunday, April 6, 2008


It's a bright sunny spring day. My friend and I walk into Sharper Image. She makes a beeline to the massage chairs, deposits her bags unceremoniously on the floor next to the biggest, softest, black leather chair, collapses into its silky depths, and gives a sigh of relief that seems to be audible throughout the store. Smiling inwardly, I steer myself in the other direction, towards the shelves of small gadgets. No massage chairs for me. I won't waste my time now on stuff like that when there is tantalizingly uncharted territory to claim...

After the first few minutes of browsing mildly through the latest utility knives, alarm clocks, golf ball retrievers (?!), ipod speakers, 15 foot tree pruners, and the like, my eye ironically settles on something so unremarkable, I wonder why it has caught my attention. Curous, I walk closer to the corner shelf, crouch down, and inspect my find. It seems to be a snowglobe. A bit more oblong than the usual spherical shape, flat on the bottom where it rests on the shelf, filled with water and miniature items. But something is wrong. It isn't pretty. Far from, actually. Tiny particles of dust or debris hang suspended in the water, an algae covered, stiff, spiky plant is submerged in the flakes that cover the bottom of the globe, and the the off-colored flakes themselves are of the last things remimiscent of snow. Weird... In Sharper Image?..... There's gotta be some kind of shtick here...

I pick up the globe, relishing its weighted balance. In a smooth snowglobe-y motion, I swirl it upside down and rightside up. But...instead of the glidey swoosh of the flakes that usually happens in normal snowglobes, this snowglobe goes... CLUNK


Apparently this is no snowglobe.

I put down the orb, and only then do I notice the modest, but quite noticeable (why hadn't I seen it before?...) note taped on the shelf just underneath my "snowglobe":

"Please Don't Disturb Our Ecosystem"

Oh my. And I had succeeded in doing just that, apparently.

I peer closer. The water is now quite full of particles, but now they are whirling tiredly instead of just suspended. The plant is askew, swaying slightly, tails of algae undulating in the swirling current. The things I had thought of as dirty flakes turn out to be gravel, and--goodness!--there are little living beings swimming here too! Teeny tiny shrimp-like fishy things, and seemingly terrified from the rate and direction they're swimming. Yikes. Disturb the ecosystem I definitely have just done.

Feeling oddly foolish and more than just a bit bad for my poor pertrified friends, I glance around to see if anyone has seen me and my blatant misdeed. Thankfully, most of the other patrons are enraptured by other, more exciting items than ecosystems. I breathe a sigh of relief quite a few decibel levels lower than my friend's, and glide away from the scene of the crime.

Over on the far side of the store, I rest my elbows on a shelf of electric toothbrushes and let my thougths swirl over me like dancing white flakes. But it's only when I come home much later and stand in front of the sink with my own (manual) toothbrush in hand, that the flurry seems to settle, and in doing so, bring thoughts into sharp relief suspended in the globe of my mind.
My life is chock-full of snowglobes.
We all have our own little orbs, neat little packages of plexiglass, filled with all kinds of interesting goodies. For the most part, our snowglobes have similar contents, but each individual's contains something--or multiple things--that makes it special and unique. Snowglobes are interesting. They're made to be. They're meant to attract attention, to call out to us, to beckon to us, for us to notice and take interest in and learn about and cherish......but they also come with neat little notices posted in plain sight right near them, warning us to be careful. And if you act like I did, being curious and trying to learn more and be helpful without remembering to have a careful look around first, you run the risk of missing the signs. And the stakes are quite high. Because it's more than just algae and fish that are disturbed when we're dealing thoughtlessly with the snowglobes in our lives...

Pay attention.
Look. See the sign? This is a whole world I'm touching now--a real, living, breathing, thriving ecosystem. Careful....
Neshamos beckon. Go, help.
But handle with care.