Monday, October 15, 2012

On the Gaining of Perspective

It seems we're back at it again. I am here, and you are there. I meander through my thoughts and scratch out a few words on the process of reading and writing. I feel for the 'you' in this situation because the process of meandering through my thoughts must be easier for me than for you. And here we are, October 2012 and there is a perspective worth gaining.

Lucian is just over nine weeks old. Nine weeks. For me it has been an incredibly long nine weeks. As the baby gets used to life, we are getting used to life with him. If there is anything I've learned in my nine weeks of fatherhood it is that the time spent in quiet reflection is astounding. I seem to spend a great deal of time trying to get poor Lucian to sleep. Once he's asleep I spent a great deal more time making sure he stays asleep. Often I sit on the sofa and hold him. When he's awake we have staring contests and when he's asleep I just stare at him. There is a certain amount of Zen to it in that my mind will empty out completely and it's as if my intellect achieves the higher plain of the nine week mark.

That's to say nothing of the thoughts that drift in and out. For instance, I wonder sometimes if I was destined to do the things I've done because in the spring of 1989 I played the lead role in the high school play. What? Yeah, right. Well, the play Jabberwock was a fictionalized version of James Thurber's life as a young man based loosely on his writings and juxtaposed on Lewis Carrol's poem. At the time, 1989, high school, I was not interested much in reading and writing. I liked the theater because I fit right in. I liked my theater mates. I liked making out with the girls when we wrapped up in the curtains. I liked the smell of the old place. It was nothing more than what it was, a high school play fueled by maturing egos and simmering hormones.

The school play, of course, is a passing thought as I hold Lucian. As I look at him, I realize that I will be dreadfully near Social Security age when he gets to the age of the high school play leading role. Perhaps by then no one will remember James Thurber. I digress. It all comes down to the perspective one gets at the key times in life. And if there is ever a key time in life it is the time when the first baby arrives at the house and the opening weeks of life when there are really two times: crying time and quiet time. Either time is a strange time for thought.

Then there is the thought of what do I want to be when I grow up? How many people have that thought? All of us, I suspect. But what about the people who are already grown up and have been for some time? Why would this thought still come through in our minds? I'm sure there are all kinds of clinical and psychological terms for this sort of thought and incessant longing for less discontent future activities. I am no different.

Aside from the leading role in the high school play I can think of dozens of other accomplishments I've had in my younger years. They offer me no real perspective now as many of them have little of no barring on present events. In fact surviving the war, living abroad; being a student, being summer camp director; living halfway to hell and back, to mention nothing of the writer's life I have now come to this perspective: when I hold my son all that stuff makes great barroom stories. I don't even get off to the barroom so much anymore.

Rather, I look at a little boy who looks a great deal like me and once he's asleep I look out at the cloud filled sky of Portland, OR. I search the clouds and recollections which are oftentimes the in same place and I wonder, what is the perspective I need to get here? And furthermore, is a perspective important? When it comes to this writing life: how much of this should I write down?

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