How I Learned to Wiggle My Ears

OPD 07/01/2006

© 2006 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine

You might be amazed to know that you have muscles that you have not yet wired up to your brain.

When we mowed the lawn by hand, it was a simple matter to steer around the many large rocks in our fields. Once we automated the process, we needed to remove them.

We piled the stones behind the barn while we thought of a use for them.

“Ah hah,” my dad lit up one day, “We can paint them white and use them to line the driveway.”

He gave me a can of paint, a brush, and the mission.

I began by painting one stone behind the barn. Then I carried it to the edge of the driveway. I repeated this a few times. It was a cumbersome process as the stones were quite heavy. It was annoying since the paintbrush kept drying between each use. And it was messy. Since I wanted to get done that day, I didn’t wait for the paint to dry before moving the stone. I transferred a good deal of paint from the stones to my hands and clothes.

After observing my efforts, my dad took the can of paint from behind the barn and placed it by the driveway.

It took me quite a while to find that can. How annoying. Who asked him to do that? Sometimes my dad would play cruel tricks.

After bringing the can back to the barn. I repeated the process a few more times. Then my dad, for no apparent reason, took a wheelbarrow out of the barn and parked it squarely on the path from the stones to the driveway.

This was even more annoying since I was inconvenienced as I moved each stone. Taking a detour took nearly twice as long.

Finally he moved the wheelbarrow and placed it, inverted, over my pile of stones. Now I was infuriated. I angrily grabbed the wheelbarrow by both handles and flung it a few yards out of the way. What was he trying to do to me?

It was back breaking work and I was exhausted by the time I was finished.

That evening, after dinner, I overheard my dad talking about me to a visiting guest. His comment disturbed me greatly.

That night I had trouble sleeping. I was mulling over his words, searching for hidden meaning. Eventually I found the muscles that allow me to wiggle my ears. Feeling satisfied, I was able to doze off.

I had overheard the words my dad had used to tell his friend the message he had been trying to tell his son.

Learn to use the muscle between your ears.


Author: Brooke Allen

A social entrepreneur and retired Wall Street executive.

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