When I lived in Denver two years ago, I worked at an elementary school and spent lots of time with a third-grader named Udo. Udo’s a little fella with a big ol’ pair of glasses and an aptitude for making animal noises of extinct animals. He’s adopted from Korea, autistic, and an only-child to divorced parents.
Every day, Udo would make a grand entrance, steering his imaginary and real toy cars on the hallway floor, generating epic sound effects and epic amounts of drool. He’d slide the cars (and himself) on the ground then back up to “outer space” until he walked right into the classroom wall and spilled the cars all over the floor. This was every day, and every day he’d look at the scattered cars and say, “Oh, that’s not good. We gotta get those brakes checked.” Every day, he played it off as an accident. Every day, he tried to hide a smile. Every day, I couldn’t help but laugh.
We were great pals. We wrote a screenplay for our critically acclaimed, straight-to-DVD movie, The Adventures of Udo and Mr. Will: Taco Time with Laser Sharks in Outer Space. We talked cars—that is, Udo asked me about my car (Is she a good girl? She a good girl, Mr. Will? She’s a good girl, huh? I thought so. I just KNEW it.). We ate snack—that is, Udo tried to see how many saltines he could eat in one sitting. The saltines were usually stale and always full of crumbs, but Udo took a real pride in housing crackers even if it took him two hours. (Eleven today! I can’t BELIEVE it. Wow. That record might NEVER be broken, my man. Wow. I’ve got a lot of people to thank. A LOT of people.).
Once, I asked Udo which he liked more: cars or Star Wars. He looked at the ground for two minutes without moving. Then he looked up at no in one particular.
Then he looked back down at the ground for another uninterrupted two minutes.
“Cars. Yup. Cars.”
His intuitiveness is transparent. His sincerity is astounding. His stage presence is natural and electric.
The other day, I read this and immediately thought of my man, Udo. I then pictured Udo with a face-full of shitty saltines, giving me a thumbs-up while driving his toy truck on his head.
Then I went back to checking the brakes on my imaginary cars.
The creative impulse is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others.—Brenda Ueland