Before, I would whittle away meantime with a semblance of discovering something important. The whole I felt of ideas were a reflection of the person I thought inside me. My snail soul. My feelings were just young, misrepresent, lost in an abyss of selfish apathy buried in a want. A want for love, for knowledge, acceptance, pride, all of the wants. Most of all, the important.
I would try desperately to understand and to seek approval from pretty girls and guppy love. I strung words in necklaces that became ornate doilies on thrift store shelves, unwanted, brittle and yellow. Weak. When someone is cold or afraid, they might be described as,
“Shaking like a leaf”. Leafs are fragile, they are subject to wind. They blow away.
I have shook like a leaf before. Once, atop a waterfall in Laos, stepping stone over a slippery slope with a Polish girl who was afraid and pushed into me. I held fast, shook hard upon arrival on solid earth and then I ate a papaya..
Again in Colorado, repelling down into a canyon, my foot caught in the rope and knotted around my boot swinging me upside down 40 feet above ground. I shook then.
I never shook like the hour after each of my children was born, when I slipped away into the bathroom and cried and cried, with joy and afraid. That was when I shook the most.
All the clichés about parenthood are true enough. The one I tell everybody is that it is the most humbling wonderful thing to ever happen to me. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in an aphorism that,
“It is the beauty and happiness in children’s faces that makes the heart grow too big for the body.”
I use that saying often. It is the pennies in the throat feeling, when tears are welling up in your eyes and you can’t speak because of the stone in your gut.
Nowdays, I feel weak and tired often. I have two children, one aged a year and a half and the second is only 3 months old. I hear crying. I change diapers, I rock, I burp, I soothe. I read books to them about mundane things like shapes and colors. I play blocks. I make funny faces and noises. This is with them. I am their father and I cannot give up.
Alone, I am sometimes afraid. I fear the inevitable, their future and my failures. I wonder if I can go on, be strong, shed my leaf of fear. Instead, I hold onto my fear and cherish it. The song it sings within me is my metronome of truth. As long as I fear, I am good enough.
My fear is only a measure of time, soon to be replaced with the life I live. Moments pass and I maintain a resolve instead of a whittling meantime. I often long for meantime, but the truth is that when moments are full, I have a purpose.
That isn’t the happy ending.
The happy ending is years from now. When my children are adults and I am gone. They will read my old strings of words and know I loved them. They will hold the ceramic fish I make in their hands and know my sacrifice. They will see a leaf stuck, furrowed in the ground, strong like a monolith. And think of me.