Did you know that dragonfly larvae, when they hatch from an egg, just swim right off to stalk, chase, and kill other insects and wee tiny fish? Well they do.
Baby horses (foals, so the literature tells me) can run within an hour or so of being born.
Baby humans need to be taught to eat. To eat. And then, after they’ve got a handle on the process, they often need to be convinced. To eat.
It’s not breaking news that kids rely completely on their parents for even the most basic of needs. Ice Cube, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton – dozens of actors have paid off millions of dollars of alimony doing films based entirely on this fact.
I’ve done my time on the changing table. I’ve stayed up late steaming and puree-ing vegetables for a developing palette, and I’ve tried to explain why sticking your hand in a blender is a bad idea. None of this is unique to me. I’m not going to add anything of substance to the canon.
Instead, I want to talk about all the ways I rely on him.
And not in the way I rely on him to help me fix my bike by testing how the pedals spin.
I’m talking about those times when I can’t tune into the news. When humanity has shown me it’s most fearful, most savage and empty self. When all of the lessons we as a nation, as a culture, as a species really should have learned by now are replayed again and again with all the old, stupid cruelty, and all the latest special effects
You can’t be on social media, you can’t be watching TV and not feel this shared national schizophrenia. Surely this can’t be actually happening. Surely the smart people will restore reason and order.
Yeah, they aren’t. Yeah, it’s actually happening.
The first step of any form of meditation is breathing. Before you do anything else related to enlightenment, you must focus on the process by which you take in oxygen and expel CO2. It’s a return to the basic, the fundamentals of life. Appreciate that you live, and you can then proceed to anything else.
So it is with my son. When all that is petty, and for sale, and tailored to the user overwhelms me, I return to my son. To my relationship with him, which has come to define me. It is my breath, it is the fundament of my existence. When I seek down in my abdomen for the invisible line that connects me to him, it is as firm and as real as crossing the Lake St bride over the Mississippi. It is clear and solid and beyond any doubt what is important, what is significant to me. And everything else recedes into the distractions they are.
I’ve relied on this a lot lately.
I know he needs me to help him with his pants. I know he’ll forget his backpack going out to catch the schoolbus.
I don’t think he’ll ever know what he really helps me with. But I could use somebody to turn the pedals while I tighten the brakes on my bike.