Monday, April 10, 2006

Two Down, An Indefinite Number To Go

Not much to say about this one. Just over 700 words. I won't be posting it yet, because it's still in progress - I think it wants to be a short story, but we'll see.

However, as promised, I am posting the results of my first time up to bat, last night. In your face, performance anxiety!

Here it is:

To Be As Strong As A Baby

Not so very long ago, I watched as my baby son put the pieces together and figured out how to crawl. He made his way, shakily, bit by bit, from the living room all the long way into the kitchen. Eight, maybe ten whole feet. By himself.

And he sat up in the kitchen, and looked around. And his expression was pure joy, and he let out a squeal of triumph.

And looking at him, I realized that being a baby, actually being aware that you have passed a developmental milestone, must be like being a mad scientist: "I am the most powerful thing in the universe! The power of motion is mine to command! I'm free! Free! FREE!!!"

I hadn't quite realized, before, how much I wish I could remember doing that.

As adults, our milestones are subtler, and our learning both more constant and more low-key. We forget that every single human being gets to experience those "Eureka!" moments, those life-changing great leaps forward.

Almost no one remembers infancy. Our brains aren't wired that way. My earliest memory - and it's just a vignette, without much context and no profundity - is from not long before I turned two.

I wonder what kind of people we would be, if we could remember being babies. How would we think, what would we do? Imagine actually remembering that despite huge obstacles and with incredible focus and determination, you tamed your own body. Learned to walk. Mastered the intricacies of human communication and cognition. Learned to talk. Went from perceiving the universe as an extension of yourself to developing relationships with people and objects and the world.

I think people who remembered being able to do that, people who really remembered it instead of understanding that it happened in a sort of abstract, intellectual way, wouldn't be the sort of people to lightly or casually turn from a goal. They wouldn't be afraid to try something new and worthwhile because it was hard. They would be constantly striving to improve, to learn, to grow, to perfect themselves.

Imagine remembering, when you faced some difficulty or obstacle in your life, that you had already done the hardest things you would ever have to do, before you were a year old.

Imagine that. And try to feel it. Because whether or not you remember it, it's just as true for me, and you, and all of us, as it is for my son.

Feel it, feel your own strength, and courage, and perseverance, and be unafraid. You can walk and talk. How hard can anything else really be?

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