As the yellow warmth of summer fades to the chilly brown of autumn, Lil and I grasp at the few moments left of our favorite season. This morning we discovered my great-grandfather Wilson Davidson’s binoculars in the closet, and Lillia was dying to try them out. I was a little nervous about handing a family heirloom over to a three-year-old, but I let her play with them for a bit. She wanted to take them to school, but I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of exposing a priceless antique to a group of preschoolers. Thankfully, the binoculars are housed in a really neat peach-colored carrying case (a perfect recepticle for plastic animals). I convinced her to take just the case to school, into which she put a frog and was happy.
After dinner we set out through to woods to the meadow under the guise of acquiring caterpillar food, but we were going mostly to test binoculars. I couldn’t face another evening stuck in the house, knowing that summer was slipping by and would soon be gone. I feel like my childhood summers were more carefree than the ones I am able to offer to Lillia. Part of that is because my mother didn’t work, so our schedule was more loosely defined than Lil’s. Another reason is that Lillia doesn’t have anyone her own age to play with most of the time, so parents and grandparents have to be substitute playmates. And, we’re tired so we’re not much fun.
For a few moments in the meadow I remembered what it was like to have no worries beyond the stalk of grass in front of me; to have no anxiety about the future because I had no concept of anything beyond what was happening at that very moment. Why is it so hard to access that state of mind once we become adults? Is it simply a matter of exercising our ability to let go, or is there something that happens to us after we’ve lived in the world long enough? We analyze our world until it breaks apart, and we can never again render it as a whole space. It is sad that we must experience our world in pieces, for we are guaranteed to miss so much that way. It is like using a grain of sand to try and understand the immensity of a boulder. We are finite beings, and there are too many grains of sand.
From an essay that Damian sent me, “The Sacred and the Human” by Roger Scruton:
…the moments when time stands still, when we look on the world from a point at its edge, when we experience our dependence and contingency, and when we are apt to be filled with an entirely reasonable awe.
I watched Lil weave her way through the tall grass, struggling to keep her balance in the green, and I thought about all the ways we try to fill our children’s days, when the simplest things are sometimes all that they really need. I have always said I don’t want to be one of those parents who micro-manages her kid’s life, who has some activity or another planned for every day of the week. What kind of childhood is that? Lillia has enough structure in her day at school. I think what she really needs at the end of the day is the same thing that I need: a chance to do nothing; to chill; to get away from it all; to space out; to watch the sun set on a field of corn; to watch a bee gather pollen; to wander through the woods, enjoying the world into which we are all born.