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“It seems our love is never enough, by nature can never be enough, until you realize that it is or maybe once you decide it is. Then there it is… everywhere as far as you can see… A place to lie down, a soft place that has always been there, but you’ve not seen it.” –Laura Bell

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Rare is the blogger that doesn’t make apologies for posting more often. This isn’t an apology– just a gripe that my computer is no longer modern enough to run wordpress updates, and I can’t post from my computer at all. This doesn’t change things. It just increases the lag between what is happening and what appears on this page. Of course, no one has ever confused this site with a way to stay up on anything current or modern.

When I was in kindergarten my best friend Jake and I used to go out after a big rain and save worms. The fat, wriggly ones were mine– Jake couldn’t stomach them, and that left the pale, limp ones his responsibility. I think this was a game for us more than it was a humanitarian cause. We had other strange shared interests: we both hated the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and would stuff dandelion heads down the holes in manhole covers to kill them. And once, brazenly, I remember us both peeing on a manhole cover, for the same reason.

Many lawns, I notice, slope down toward the sidewalks. When the ground is saturated the worms practically pour out onto the concrete. Momentum carries them toward the curb, and the gutter, and it is possible to view town as green oases separated by a death trap network of drains, down which the vitality of the land is inexorably pulled.

Worms look particularly sentient to me. Part of it must be their color: flesh toned. Unlike ants, or beetles, or flies, which are composed of interlocking panels that evoke space ships, worms seem to be made of the same stuff that we are. When they are cold and wet, they go flaccid and hypothermic. Wounded– disemboweled– shocking colors and textures come from their bodies, and they thrash terribly. A strong, healthy worm pushes along muscularly, impressively, the segments working like accordion bellows, the front end drawing out into a curious, probing, feeling tip.

Today, I can’t help but “save” some worms. Before you grab them, you have to tap their side with a finger so they contract. Otherwise, you’re liable to destroy their delicate bodies. I will carry them in my hand until I find a suitable expanse of grass, then toss them into the center. Until then, I don’t mind the feeling of them coiling and flexing into the cracks of my fingers. If anything, it is an exciting contact with another form of life. More to the point, I certainly can’t save them all. Like Oskar Schindler, I’ve made my own criteria for which deserve rescue, criteria which seem preposterously arbitrary given the gravity of the matter. I like to reward a strong-bodied worm making bold progress in the wrong direction. A worm in the middle of a parking lot, stretching and contracting to its doom, is impossible to pass by. Likewise, a worm in a gutter, struggling against the flow of waste water, getting pulled toward a storm drain. Saving willful organisms from such hellholes feels immediately rewarding.

That’s the strange thing about saving worms. It makes my powers, my choices, feel consequential. But like recycling, the sum of my efforts is perfectly insignificant in the face of the problem. The problem is the world we’ve created: its hostility to life. The worms I save aren’t worth mentioning compared to those I teach myself not to see. The ones that, at best, I try not to step on. When I’m in a rush, or on a bike, I practice not noticing the ground at all. The next morning, and for days to come, these thousands upon thousands of soft, pink, fingers of life, having rubbed themselves inside out against the unfeeling surfaces of civilization, are to be found in place, crisp and purple.

He is resolved to forget that the desperate clinging to the self and the desperate clinging to life are the surest way to eternal death, while the power to die, to strip one’s self naked, and the eternal surrender of the self bring immortality with them. –Hermann Hesse

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.

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