Thursday, April 24, 2014

scitó te

you and the seasons spoke the same language 
and all these years I have looked through your limbs 
to the river below and the roofs and the night 
and you were the way I saw the world 
--W. S. Merwin, Elegy for a Walnut Tree

One night, many years from now, I will sit down on my very worn and very loved sofa.
Sitting next to me will be a young boy--my young boy.
The scary thing about children is that there are so many Great Big Lessons to impart to them.
It is absolutely mind-boggling to recall all the lessons that got crammed into the first ten years of your life. 
How did you manage to learn all the things that you had to learn? 
It is highly mysterious. How did your parents not panic, as they thought of all the vast expanse of knowledge that had to be imparted to the young baby in their arms.
I know for a fact that responsibility will tug at my heart always.
As I watch my young son take his first steps, I will want him to know about all the muscles inside of him that are moving his legs, and how they work in tandem with his nervous system and his skeleton, and how delicately they are designed, and how magnificently he is loved.
But children learn to walk by taking just one step.
So, I hope I remember to tell my son, in the midst of all the Great Big Lessons, the small little stories.
Because it really is the small stories of life that are the most interesting.
The Great Big Lessons take up most of our conversations, but the small little stories take up most of our brains.
Each day, all the small little stories fill our mind and leave just a quickly, and we usually forget to tell each other about them.
And maybe we're not supposed to.
Maybe the stories of each day are part of the story being written for only ourselves to see for now.
But I do hope I remember to tell my son about the small lessons in the small stories.
The stories of the sunny spring mornings when the entire atmosphere smells of manure and grass growing. 
Stories of starting compost heaps by picket fences.
Stories of what the stars looked like in the evening of Holy Saturday.
Of the hyacinths that bloomed under the shade of your favorite climbing tree.
Of the days you forget your running shoes in your locker, and you bike to school in your pink socks.
If you bike to school in your pink socks, you will definitely pass someone that you know and want to impress.
Because you never look pressed and put-together when you pass the person you want to impress. You pass them when you look disheveled and like you haven't showered in a year, and when you're sweaty from running across campus.
That is simply just how the world works, and you will just have to accept it with dignity and grace. 
But then, sometimes, on the days that God knows you need a giant pick-me-up, you will run into a former flame on a day when your hair magically decided to fall into soft and docile waves, and when you're wearing that Coat that Always Gets Compliments. 
Maybe you even wore make-up.
But, let's be realistic, you probably didn't, knowing you. 
Of course, you ruin the sweet victory by stuffing a brownie into your mouth moments before passing them. 
But that's fine. We can work with that.
Just refrain from words, and simply smile sweetly in their direction. 
You may feel tempted to flip your hair gently, to advertise how excellent it's looking.
Don't, please.
Overkill is never an attractive quality; and restraint always is.
Continue to smile pleasantly, (even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues) and thank all that is holy that you grabbed that coat that morning.
You offer up a silent prayer and a promise to light a candle at the Grotto later in thanksgiving for the unmerited and serendipitous hair day.

Remember that if your dignity is feeling a little bruised, a whiskey sour and conversation with a friend will always serve as an accelerando to bring you back up to tempo.
Humility and vulnerability are essential qualities if you're going to become a fully developed human being.
Cultivate them.
But never at the expense of keeping your chin up, and walking with purpose and direction.
Moping should be relegated to the morning hours, and ought to be medicated heavily with peach tea, Nutella toast, and roommates who can coax your dour visage into laughter.

Furthermore, be bold. Take risks. As Ferdinand Foch once quoth: the will to conquer is the first condition of victory.
Remember, though, a lesson Ferdinand never had to learn: if you push your luck trying to wear a dress from junior year of high school, the zipper may get stuck, and you will have to live with the consequences.
Those consequences include but are not limited to being stuck in said dress for forty-five minutes until your roommate arrives home, as sweet a sight as Moses to the Israelites, to save you from your bondage.
Instead of singing a song to the Lord with Miriam, you will just laugh together.
Although I haven't learned much my four years of college, I have learned that it is the small stupid adventures of life each day--the ones that make you laugh together-- that are the most worth sharing.
They are sunshine on the greyest days.
These are the stories we never remember to tell our children.
But I think maybe they are exactly the ones they ought to hear.

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