Sunday, March 25, 2007

The cost

The room's crowded, uncomfortably so. It's hot and late, people are obviously starting to fade and it won't be long before things break up. It falls quiet, just one of those moments where everyone comes to rest at the same time, their punctuations aligning for a moment.

I fill the silence and the sound of eye rolling is the reply. Someone mutters "whiner" under their breath. Not unexpected, not by now, and though it gives me pause I still finish my thought.

You see, I had to say something. I was having trouble breathing. The elephant in the room, my elephant, was taking up so much space that the air was being compressed, heavy in my lungs. It's one of a herd that I can't seem to shake, not for long anyway.

Fortunately those elephants of mine have very large ears and are shy by nature. They can't stand to be spoken of and flee at the sound of their names. A temporary respite, but I'll take what I can get. And if the price I have to pay for a moment of peace is contempt from strangers and strained sympathy from friends, then so be it.

I'll pay, and pay again gladly, even if the government figures a way to tax such a purchase, even if no one else ever manages to glimpse the fleeing pachyderm.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Wonderfully banal

So, do you want to see a picture of my kid?

How that question gets answered is pretty revealing. It seems to polarize people into those who are eager and those who are grudging. Mind you no one ever refuses outright. I guess new parents are perceived to be a bit touchy. Go figure.

I can understand this. Kids embody one of the basic dichotomies of human existence. On the one hand they are utterly miraculous and on the other there's nothing more banal. The ability to create new life, a whole new person with unique thoughts and emotions is astounding. I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea and I'm having even more trouble trying to articulate the wonder of it.

It seems to me that there should be more to it. You should have to complete some great quest, slay the dragon with a rock, climb the mountain alone in winter or cross the ocean on an open raft to be granted such an ability. But it's far easier than that, or at least for the LUC and I it was.
It's that simplicity that has covered the earth with humans. What is it, 6.5 billion and counting? Every one of them born to parents, every one of them a tiny little figure at 14 and half weeks like we saw on the ultrasound. Banal indeed.

I was one of those people who only saw the ubiquitousness of children. I even told my brother when he had his first child "No, you don't need to send me a picture of the baby. At that age they all look the same, send me a picture when he starts looking like a real human." I was, needless to say, an asshole. Sorry Dave.

I still feel that way and yet I've come to understand the amazement too. I'm trying hard to hold these two things at the same time because that's what keeps the sparkle in life, wonder at the banal, seeing the miraculous in the everyday. We get so, well, just plain used to things that we lose sight of their essential nature.

The stars are just as beautiful the thousandth time you see them as they are the first. The only thing that's changed is how you perceive them. You can choose your perceptions, and that's a huge lesson that my unborn child is already teaching me. I hope she (or he) doesn't grade on the curve, turns out I'm a bit of a slow learner.

So, do you want to see a picture of my kid?