***I was recently invited to take part in the "Flat Stanley Project." For those of you that are out of the elementary school loop, the project is based on a 30 year old children’s book by Jeff Brown. In it, Stanley Lambchop is (((squashed))) by his classrooms bulletin board and his parents react by folding him up and mailing him off to visit friends in California.
What a twisted concept! Somehow it not only caught on, but it took on a life of its own. There are now millions of Flat Stanley traveling to faraway places - meeting fascinating people along the way.
Most recently, Stanleys been photographed at a black tie affair at the Whitehouse (an "invited" guest) with the Obamas by his side, at the halfpipe with Shaun White during the Vancouver Olympics, and high flat-fiving Reggie Bush at the Super Bowl.
YEP, all the places I'll never go. This little man has got it going on!
My Flat Stanley was waiting for me when I returned from a trip to Paris. My initial reaction was to photoshop him into my pictures - but that would have been cheating, right? If he had arrived ten days earlier our time together could have been educational, besides I was flying solo - it would have been nice to have a companion in the Grand City of Lights.
Together we could have meandered our way through the streets of Saint Germain, tapped our toes to the murky melody at the Rue Des Lombards jazz clubs, and sipped a 40 euro cocktail at the Four Seasons George V hotel bar. He could have joined me for a Friday night stroll at the Louvre, helped me maneuver my way through the metro, and push passed the tourists at The Pantéon.
Instead, he was left behind - sprawled out naked on my kitchen counter, patiently waiting for me to bring him to life.
Together we engaged in a week of mundane tasks – shoveling snow, overcoming overflowing work obstacles, and attending family functions. I buckled him in and chauffeured him to all my favorite haunts - the nail salon, the hardware store, I even took him to therapy. It was interesting to see people’s reaction to Stanley, and to how I interacted with Stanley. Some were noticeably uncomfortable, others were mildly entertained, and a few joined in the fun.
During my time with Stanley I rediscovered the joy of color, and was reminded that the world of Make Believe beats mindless television viewing - hands down. I made him clothes and tiny little props. I photographed him, videotaped him, wrote about him and then, reluctantly, I returned him.
Yesterday I received an email from my dear friend Steve. My sister and I met Steve one year while attending Burning Man. Steve is the epitome of a free thinker - wild, adventurous, and passionate about his beliefs. Steve was writing to tell me, and a group of his friends, about his time with “Flat Ryan.” His flat friend was mailed to him by my sisters, son’s school.
Steve embraced this project with incredible kindness. His adventures are so compelling and uplifting that I want to share them with you. Flat Ryan's journeys reflect Steve’s true heart and showcases his genuine, sincere, and abundant love for the island and the people of Hawaii.
Although I have not experienced the magnitude of fascinating people and places that Stanley has encountered, my journeys have allowed me to define and fine tune my character judgment. I am impressed and deeply humbled by the integrity of those of you I am honored to call my friend.
Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy
FLAT RYAN IN HAWAII
click on the FLAT RYAN IN HAWAII link to be whisked away to the wonders of Hawaii