You turned four around the time that I started to notice that I'm going to turn 40. Not tomorrow, but one day, and sooner than I'd like. Everyone says 40s are the new blah blah blah, and I'm sure they're right, but nobody says 40s are young. Nobody says oh I was 45 and beautiful and carefree. This is the sort of pointless script that's been running through my head lately, when I am not either crushingly busy or fastidiously quieting my mind. Which is still enough of the time to be noticeable.
A friend told me that four-year-olds are obsessed with death. I hadn't noticed until we watched March of the Penguins together and you asked me why did the baby penguin diiiiiiiiiiiie? for days on end. Since then you have specialized in threat assessment. Nearly every day you mentally follow one risk or another through to its logical conclusion, invariably some form of if you (fill in the blank) could you get dead? To which I reply, yes, if you (swallow glass) (jump from a high place) (play with fire) you could die. In my head I also note and if you (eat too much bacon) (don't take your fish oil) or, you know, (just keep waking up every day). Apparently we are both preoccupied with mortality.
My godmother sent me a primer on Buddhism and you'll never guess what example the author uses, right there in the first chapter, to illustrate the basic concept of attachment. Our attachment to our body. Our vanity. Our fetishization of youth. In other words, I am a textbook case. The Dalai Lama thinks I am a cliche.
I was hoping to justify my fixation as maintenance, like haircuts and eyebrow waxes. Harmless. I could harvest your knock-knock jokes and inject them into my laugh lines. Emulsify your imagination, and smooth it over my age spots. Collect the eyelashes you shed and let an obsessive-compulsive aesthetician glue them onto my own, one by one, the world's most luxurious extensions.
Is it creepy to fetishize your own child's youth? I hope not. I wouldn't really steal one moment from you, one innocent query, sweet boy. Witnessing your curiosity as you piece the world together is one of my chief joys. I would rather (go gray) (sag) (wrinkle) (learn to meditate) than rob you of a thing. After all, if everything goes well, I'll have a long, long time to get progressively wrinklier, saggier, grayer (and hopefully more detached) before I get dead.
All my love,