Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Nerd Moment. Has This Ever Happened To You?

I had a Nerd Moment yesterday morning.

You know what I'm talking about. You're buzzing along in your normal world, being responsible, being practical, when something happens that jolts you out of the practical world and sends you somewhere else. And for some time, a minute or an hour or a week, it's hard to see anything else and you feel compelled to focus on whatever caught your attention. In a movie or book, it's the pivotal moment, the moment when the brilliant but unproductive scientist or doctor or engineer watches something happen, drops whatever he's doing, and spends the next week working non-stop, barely sleeping or eating, coming up with the Big Idea the story hangs on. It's the moment that inspires an entrepreneur to start a company to solve one problem.

Some people call it a Eureka Moment, or a Moment of Clarity. I call it a Nerd Moment.

This time, the nerd struck me on my daughter's soccer field. It was a girl on the opposing team that did it.

She was tall--among the tallest players on the field. She was lean, and fair, and freckled. She squinted in the sun, her focus entirely on the game, and in her eyes I read just a hint of coldness. This girl knew just what she wanted and how to get it.

But it was her hair, flame-red and curly and bound at the back of her head to froth down her back to just between her shoulder blades, that really caught my attention. That, and the fact that her team wore vivid emerald green. And in my mind, she became something else.

I saw her as an Irish princess, a cloak around her shoulders and a long sword in her hand in an age before the Vikings ravaged Ireland. At first I thought the sword was hers--that she was a warrior-princess standing guard over her home while her father and brothers and cousins were off making war against one of their neighbors. But as the vision developed, I realized the sword was her father's; she stood holding it for him while he readied himself to leave for war. And she was less than happy to be the one left behind. She had already asked if she could go with him, but he had firmly refused, and her noble pride wouldn't let her beg. But she burned to go with him and share in the glory and adventure of battle, and she vowed to herself that one day, she would--no matter what he said.

To be fair, she could have been nearly anyone: a thrall from Sweden or Norway, a Dane, a Scot. She could even have been Berber. She could have been a stowaway on the Titanic, or working in a factory in London, or sister to a Dane who hoped to prove himself by joining a ship's crew and going i-viking. She could have been crossing the prairie with her family, moving west to a better life in Texas or California, or watching her father leave for the Army in 1861, or 1942. I don't know her or her ancestry--so I'm free to come up with any story I want. And to me, she is an Irish princess in an age before the Vikings.

I've never really had more than a passing historical interest in the Irish. My fascination has always been with the other side of the Irish Sea, with the Britons and Picts and Scots. But thanks to a nameless redhead in a green soccer jersey--I may just have to write an Irish story one day.

My daughter's team lost the game 5-4. But my daughter played hard, and that made me proud. And you know, it's not so bad to do your best and lose a close game when the other team has an Irish princess playing for them.

Be open to the Nerd Moments. You never know where they might take you.

And go get your nerd on!

No comments:

Post a Comment