In 1974, when I was a mere tyke of four or five years old, I was playing with my play trucks in a sandbox in the backyard of my family’s house in Yorba Linda, California USA.
I enjoyed building things. And had taken my Tinker Toys…
And I had built a Ferris wheel…
This was to be the first part of a theme park I was building.
I was proud of my smooth roads that I had built in the sand.
But in order to preserve my roads, my theme park needed a tunnel to make it to my newly constructed Ferris wheel.
I would usually use the Tinker Toys to reinforce tunnels I would create and keep the tunnels from caving in on themselves.
But with all the Tinker Toys being used for my theme park, and without any other options for support as I didn’t want to introduce messy twigs and branches into my sandbox – the sand kept collapsing every time I tried building a tunnel.
No matter how hard I tried.
No matter what I did….
The tunnel just kept collapsing.
How were my cars going to get to my theme park?
Such a monumental problem to solve, for such a young child.
How were people going to get to my amusement park?
Location and position was utterly inflexible.
I just HAD to have a tunnel.
I remember thinking.
The sand is so dry…
I was starting to notice it was getting hotter.
Real hot in fact.
The sunlight changed color.
It got much brighter now.
Dry… I just knew there was something I was missing…
I looked down.
But I wasn’t scared.
I was more just surprised.
As I saw tiny little people, playing in the sand where my creation once stood.
They were no bigger than the size of my thumb.
They were all playing.
My tinker toys.
No longer there.
Before I could get upset that my work was gone…
That is when I noticed something peculiar….
They were pouring water into rectangular molds they had fashioned to contain the water.
I didn’t understand at first why.
And then I saw it.
They were pouring sand in.
I could see that they were then leaving this sand and water combination out to dry in the heat.
With exposure to the hot sun, the bricks quickly turned into hard blocks.
And in my young mind, I just knew I had just been given my answer on how to build my tunnel.
“Just add water”
But where was my tunnel?
Before I could look around, I noticed something…
These little people had a big problem.
The blocks they had – were too heavy for these tiny little people to lift,
I began to notice they had all kinds of contraptions set up to try to lift the blocks. They looked a lot like Tinker Toys.
Only much more complex.
Words like pulleys and levers and things I did not understand.
They tried using a wood plank the size of a small stick.
But as I watched, it snapped in half as they tried using it to lift these blocks.
The blocks were just too huge in size compared to them.
And the blocks would simply not budge.
Nothing they did seemed to be able to lift these huge blocks above their heads.
It was like they had not thought ahead of what they would do once they put the blocks together.
But for me – I had an answer..
These little blocks were no bigger than the toy trucks I had only moments before been playing with.
Where were they again?
That’s when I saw – they had the ground marked.
So I knew where they wanted the blocks.
I leaned over and took one of the blocks that was dry – and lifted it freely with two fingers.
And put it in place.
Much to their amazement.
At first I frightened them.
I don’t think they even knew I was there before that moment.
But as I worked to help them…
For two hours that day. I moved block after block for those tiny little people who began working together to show me which block to grab next and where to place it.
It was funny.
But they seemed to understand something I did not.
And the ones who were not helping.
I could hear them singing together a single word over and over again:
We exchanged something that day.
Why I had to be there to help them.
And why they needed to see me.
Block after block after block I lifted that day.
Boy, was I tired when I got the last one done!
About then. I heard a loud crack of thunder.
But no clouds were around.
The sky turned dark.
I saw a shape come down from the sky.
It scared the little people.
The noise scared them.
I was afraid for the first time.
And I started to cry
The shape approached me from the sky.
I saw glittering light form all around me.
As the world around me turned dark.
And then – in a whirlwind – I was sitting on concrete.
There I was – suddenly on the other side of my house, still in my backyard.
The sand pail still in my hand.
It was starting to sprinkle as thunder struck overhead.
A mysterious dark cloud seemed to recede above me.
I cried louder.
I was really scared now.
About that time, my mom came flying out from inside my family’s house, frantic.
“Where were you?,” she said through her tears, “You have been gone for hours and had me and your father worried sick.”
I cried with her.
I didn’t know why.
I didn’t know her language very well at that time.
I didn’t know how to tell her where I had been.
And even if I did.
How could I have told my mother…
“Mom, I went back in time as I had to help the Egyptians finish their Pyramids before the Mayans did…”
The next day.
I discovered mud.
Much to the delight of the Adobe Indians…
But much to my mom’s chagrin….