For the past several days here in sunny and warm San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I have been playing host to a guy named Stanley.
Stanley is a doll. Well, not in the sweetie-pie-guy sense, or even the real doll sense. Stanley is more like a paper doll.
He’s better known to his many fans of the children’s book written by Jeff Brown and published over fifty years ago as “Flat Stanley.” And as those who know of him know, he gets around.
For those, like I was, who are unfamiliar with the story, it goes something like this: A little boy named Stanley was sleeping in his bedroom when his bulletin board fell off the wall and flattened him. He’s taken to the doctor, but no one can figure out how to make him better again. Instead of being paralyzed by this mishap, he uses it to his advantage and goes on adventures around the world – through the mail! tucked in flat envelopes! – then reports back to school kids on his travels. (For more, you might check out: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Stanley.)
My friend Morgan, who was my Peace Corps post mate in Gabon twenty years ago and now lives in Idaho with her husband Tom and young son Eddie, sent Flat Stanley to me recently so Eddie could report to his second grade class on Stanley’s visit to San Miguel. What fun! I thought. Morgan remembered how much I loved making hand puppets to entertain the little Gabonese kids. This “project” would be a variation, of sorts, on that.
So Stanley and I have been “doing the town” this Christmas season, as only a carefree, ex-pat retiree and a charming and adventurous young paper doll can. Here are some photos, as proof:
“Stan and I are bonding,” I wrote in an e-mail to Morgan the other day.
Remembering how I fell in love with my handmade hand puppets in Gabon, she replied, “I would expect no less.”
But more than this, Stanley is teaching me important lessons.
Yes, it’s true that as a writer I tend to look for life lessons and inspiring stories under every rock and behind every curtain. I’m like a dog forever digging for bones. But Stanley really has spoken to me, in his fashion:
Life flattens all of us sooner or later, in one way or another. The challenge is to pick ourselves up and carry on, with a thirsty sense of adventure, wide eyes, big smiles, and open arms – just like Stanley’s.