Search
Look, Bird tweets:
More! Pictures! (Seriously.)

and

Entries in youth (2)

Monday
Oct012012

Fountain of Youth

Ezra, 4th birthdayDear Ezra,

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,

Mama

Wednesday
Jan112012

Gardening by Moonlight

The Farmer's Almanac (and my favorite gardeners) say to plant seeds while the moon is waxing.  Planting them at night is optional.  The thinking is that just as the moon controls the tides, it shifts the way the water moves through the soil.  Seeds are thought to absorb more water as the moon grows full, and to grow into healthier plants.

My mom is one of those gardeners, the keeper of the greenest thumb I know and an expert in nurture.  It occurs to me that she has become highly attuned to fertile ground.  For Christmas, my mom gave me the audio book of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  She knew I was feeling overwhelmed, so she assured me that it's a very affirmative listen even if you're not actually doing the 12-week program Cameron lays out in the book.  She also knows that I'm a sucker for a good idea, especially when it is presented at the right time.  So it probably came as no surprise to her when I called home saying I want to do those morning pages.  That's in the category of cultivate, for sure.

The practice is to write three pages of stream-of-consciousness each morning.  It can be dull, fragmented, repetitive, but the idea seems to be to get the gunk out of your system and onto paper first thing each day. You're not even really supposed to go back and read the writing, at least for the first couple of months.  (For those keeping count, this would bring my list of morning practices to morning pages, meditate, run.  I'm not clear on what order those things should happen or how early I would need to get up in order to make them happen before Ezra wakes.  I'm trying not to think about that, or to acknowledge how much the running part of the balance has fallen off the program.)

Funnily, my mom gave me The Artist's Way about 15 years ago, and I remember reading it and thinking You have to write THREE PAGES? EVERY SINGLE DAY?  There is NO WAY I would ever do that.  That's just crazy.  I was young and dumb enthusiastic and drunk free, and too busy creating a reasonable facsimile of adulthood to consider whether I had anything else to create.

So here is a seed I planted in the dark as the moon grew fuller last week: a notebook, a good pen, and all the petty and banal thoughts and feelings that live inside me but don't deserve to see the light of day.  I never thought that would feel like a luxury, but this week it does.  I don't know quite what I'm cultivating with this, but it feels a little bit like throwing down a handful of mixed wildflower seeds.  It'll be interesting, as the seasons change, to see just what takes root.  Maybe something will even bloom.