Dick Van Dyke in a scene from “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” sings about the benefits of using sticks.
Sometimes a baton isn’t just a baton.
Dick Van Dyke is always good for showing the humor in things. In this scene from “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang,” he let us know there are so many uses for a stick in everyday life.
A gentleman’s got a walking stick.
A seaman’s got a gaff.
And the merry men of Robin Hood
They used a quarterstaff.
On the Spanish plains inside their canes
They hide their ruddy swords.
But we make do with an old bam-boo
And everyone applauds!
(From “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang”
In this song we also hear about,
- When punting on the beautiful Thames they use a sturdy pole.
- To protect their fair complexion, ladies use a parasol.
- It’s useful in the underbrush to have a hefty spear.
My BataAni Twin and I have several batons – some mass-produced, some home made. We have heavy wooden staffs; a couple of walking sticks for hikers; several adapted former golf clubs, some with lights on the ends; and, of course, we have several officially purchased through-the-mail batons (because that’s usually the only way you can buy them new.)
So we can say we are a bit knowledgeable about the benefits of sticks for humans. Too bad some business entity decided to market them for little girls around the time our men were being drafted off to war. Kinda ruined our experiences with sticks.
The world was very different before the world wars that began when the Romanovs were murdered. There used to be a world where childhood was innocent, where gentlemen strolled with walking sticks, ladies carried parasols, and kids played stickball in familiar neighborhoods.
The Trauma of war awakened a wound in the psyche of humanity. We’re still suffering from Generational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Just a few short years after our men came home from foreign wars, TVs came into more and more homes, invading our former existence. (Then someone decided it would be “healthier” to circumcise our little boys … that’s another human attack for another discussion about the hyper-sexualization of humanity.)
Suddenly, they had taken sticks out of our awareness. Instead, we were playing and cheering for war games in school, like football and baseball and basketball, where the goal was to conquer the other team. Carrying a cane to work was cumbersome, besides, you don’t need them when you drive everywhere, right? Sticks were for housekeeping or gardening, not everyday use.
We went back to a set schedule. We started working for the weekend, for Friday night high school football and Saturday Night Fever, activities that might guilt us to attend Sunday church to keep us “right with the Lord.” But football took those days, too.
With football, someone found a great place to highlight the power of the baton, while adding girls to football — mass-produced batons.
The now-shortened baton with a star on top looked like a fairy Godmother’s magic wand, with names like The Venus and the Starlet and the SuperStar.
The guys weren’t completely out of the picture, at least. They could twirl with the girls as a drum major or a … Majorette, because what band needs more than one Drum Major? [facepalm] … Oh, never mind. Here, boys, grab a bat or a golf club. Hit the ball out of the park, why don’t you try? Or you can try to hit this little ball off a tee and get that magical hole-in-one into that tiny little hole all the way over there.
Well, you can always grab a rifle and march off to kill. It’s kinda like a stick, and you will be marching as if in a parade… sorta makes it okay, right?
See, the thing is, I’ve seen the health benefits of twirling a stick as I work to rewire the neurons in my MS-afflicted brain after seeing how well David was able to recover from his near-death hospital experience. Human brains only deteriorate if we stop using the neural pathways. I remember watching a Phil Donahue episode where someone mentioned that we can work with our body and our brains to help us stay healthy, so when the Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis came around for me in 2007, I knew I could find a way out of the darker moments. I had no doubt. I took it in stride, like that little girl I was who watched Phil Donahue after school.
But I hadn’t realized the baton would make such a difference in my life. It’s not like a miraculous, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-boo kinda thing, but it feels like it is. My brain is reactivating, not degenerating. With my baton, I’m making left-brain/right-brain connections I hadn’t recognized before. As I work on my left-hand USTA Compulsory skills, then mirror those in the right-hand, I’m activating parts of my brain that haven’t felt alive since just before I became a right-handed writer when the school indoctrination began.
The repetition needed for skill mastery is also something that is needed for using the neuroplasticity of the brain to rewire brain neurons and synapses to make stronger connections.
We do not have to get old and fall prey to failing health. Many of us have just forgotten how to exercise our brain AND our body. Baton twirling does both. I think we would all do well to reacquaint ourselves with “the ol’ bamboo.”
Until next time, I remain,
The Dragonfly’s Student