"You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince."
Excerpt "On Turning 10" By: Billy Collins
I have one morning off this week, and it has welcomed me perfectly. A chill in the air, but not too cold. Birds chirping. My coffee, mostly finished, but still at my side. Millie is already in her cape. Today she'll be some character of her making, a princess, a fairy? My oldest is off at school. she's rounding the bend of childhood. One moment she's a wolf, a cat, and then I turn my head and she is Annie, asking to learn out to cook and sew and become a person in the world. She weaves in and out of her imagination, blissfully unaware of what's changing.
When I was a child, we would drive to the Coast every Summer. Long stretches of highway, but as you neared, you could smell the salt in the air, the wind coming off the water. But you had to get up on the bluff to actually see the water, to know you had arrived. And when you did, it took your breath away. It was wide and wild, silencing and calming. And your smallness was never so in focus than at it's edge.
"It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed."
I am thinking about these changes, as I watch my girls, and I realize that midlife feels strangely similar. I think, rather unknowingly, that I lived much of my adult life under the ruse of immortality. "If you cut me, I could shine". But now, as I come again to my own waters edge, I realize "I skin my knees, I bleed". Every season of life brings with it a moment of waking up. It's almost shocking, have I been asleep all this time? What exactly was I doing the last decade? I look at Millie, she's changed out of her cape and into her hiking gear. She's going somewhere. I am going somewhere, too. Maybe I was under the ruse of immortality, or maybe I was just living the life that was right in front of me. We do not live at the waters edge. We live inland, we are traveling to and fro, and when the time is right, we arrive to our next awakening. I see Annie and I approaching the waters edge. Millie is doing cartwheels behind us, blissfully unaware that the sea is just on the horizon, with it's wild and austere invitation.
Too glim for a Tuesday morning? May I offer some comfort from Saint Anne Lamott, "100 years from now, all new people".
I don't know why that makes me laugh, but it does. We're all in the same boat y'all. Same boat.