The reason babies are “miracles” is that one person becomes two people. The process is very slow and it mostly takes place, for the cognizant parties, in the abstract. Then, one day, a person emerges from another person.

Rather, two people become three people. The emergent person is some sort of compromise of their parents. Like their parents’ relationship is. This particular compromise is one of billions of possible combinations, of how to look at things, and now it has to live with itself. Every set of parents, I expect, have the potential to create any type of person.

The emergent person you will share the rest of your life with won a lottery with infinite. Yet their blessing is a mixed one.

This small, young human has the buds of everything it takes to grow old in. It’s like somebody gave them a packing list for what they’ll need on their trip. There weren’t instructions though– just a packing list– and the uncoordinated, unfocused inventory constitutes only baggage, so far. Receptors of pain; conduits of restlessness. A jumble of parts that serves as a mockery of the impossible challenges ahead.

For the first time since your late teens, you begin to wonder what the self is. You wonder what “you” are.

You wonder what your stance on the world is. What you’ve learned worth sharing. What type of life is worth living, and how you’d frame it.

What you’ve ignored. What you can’t account for.

Before you had a baby, you understood that there were “baby people,” and that you weren’t one. You were immune to the preciousness, the sentimentality.

Then you saw how a baby comes into the world, kicking and screaming. All they are given, in return for their discomforts, is that one roll of the dice. You start to empathize with them. Impulse control: what are our defenses, really? Self-sufficiency: it’s so relative.

What do we do with the bad feelings we can’t escape? How much, in the end, is denial, and how much is overcoming? What victories actually count in the end?

For now, you have an edge over the baby’s demands. You have the authority of years. But let’s talk about those years– baby is a clean slate. The dimensions of this world are patterning their mind. Your patterns have nothing on theirs.

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Consequently, he who wants to have right without wrong,
order without disorder,
does not understand the principles
of heaven and earth.
He does not know how
things hang together. –Chuang Tzu

And yet, and yet– to deny the succession of time, to deny the self, to deny the universe, are measures of outward despair and inner consolation. Our lot… is not terrible because it is unreal; it is terrible because it is irreversible… Time is the substance of which I am made. Time is a river that bears me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that ravages me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, alas, is real.

–Borges

In regard to their own movement

The stars we track have no inkling.

They’re just burning.

Is the willow less then winter?

God’s a far cry and busy

Counting dead ants, dead stars.

In regard to its own movement the willow tree

Knows less and less.

Now and then now and then

I forget what I am saying

To myself, often

When you touch me,

Even if we are just wandering down this street

On the surface of a planet

Turning through the fire.

–James Galvin


This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.

Explorer, you tell yourself, this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.

But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.

–Gwendolyn MacEwen, “Dark Pines Under Water”

I’d learned to live outside, in weather, under the changing sky, and so my dreams lived, too. –C.L. Rawlins

It had been a wonderful dream, but now all that lingered was the memory. …It is strange how when a dream is fulfilled there is little left but doubt. –Tom Hornbein

The landscape was there, and more than ever he felt he could not reach it. The rocks and the sky were everywhere, ready to absolve him, but as always he carried the obstacle within him. –Paul Bowles