Wednesday, May 26, 2010

17 Minutes of Ant Joy

As the temperature rose to a staggering 98 degrees here in Marlbrough, MA today, my son and I ventured outside the realm of the deliciously cool AC to get a little fresh air while Jen managed the clean-up of the kitchen.

As Tyler and I stood on the front concrete stoop of our apartment complex, ants raced back and forth in front of our bare feet. Each time an ant made the dangerous journey, Tyler squeeled with delight and pointed at said ant. Then, he conducted a sort of ant-dance whereby he continued pointing at the ant, squeeling, and added a foot-fire quick-step. Once the ant had managed its way into the safety of the grass (escaping Tyler's excited dance), my son would calm down and wait for the next sojourner.

After 17 minutes of delirious dancing and ant-sight-seeing, we finally could bear the heat no longer and returned to the cool comforts of our apartment.

However, Tyler's dance remains fresh in my mind. So, now that he is down to bed for the night, I'll share with you the question I pose to myself: when was the last time we danced over something so small, mundane, and utterly normal as an ant? Or, perhaps the better question is simply: when was the last time we danced?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trading Epiphanies

Once upon a time, I used to have the kind of epiphanies that arrived when I was sitting at the edge of the ocean, where the water kisses the sand and the sun smiles and leans back in his chair watching it all happen. Those kinds of thoughtful, reflective, transforming moments happen much less, lately.

Now, my epiphanies come when a full glass of ice water is knocked onto my lap by my 18-month old son Tyler while we're out at a restaurant to celebrate Jennifer and her remarkable mommy-hood.

Lately, epiphanies shock me. They grab hold of me and say: Live this life, damn it! Don't miss a moment; don't waste a second!

They arrive when Tyler burps (for real) and then finds the sound of his own burping so strange and new and delightful that he continues burping (for pretend) for the next five minutes because it makes his Daddy and his Mommy just about bust their guts laughing. When Jen and I finally catch our breath and stare at our little man full in the face--yup: epiphany. Life is meant to be laughed at.

When our little man has just been srubbed clean in a bath foaming with enough bubbles to cover Godzilla, and we're now drying him off and about to exit the bathroom for the bedroom to put on his pajamas covered in dinosaurs playing with a variety of sports equipment, and then--splat!...splat!...spalatta-tatta-plop-tat!--the diarrhea-like substance cascades down his read end and lands in a surplus of medium-sized piles all over the bathroom floor--yup: epiphany. Life gives you surprises; you can get mad at life's surprises or you can use them as bookmarks to remember the stages you've been through.

When Jennifer and I have gotten our little man down to sleep, and then we've cleaned up the kitchen, and folded the laundry that's been sitting in the dryer for two days, and cleaned up all the disembodied parts of Mr. Potato Head, and picked up the various foods (rice, Cheerios, avocado) that has been squashed into the carpet--when all of this is done and we sit close to one another with a glass of wine and speak softly, whisper about the dreams yet to come, the antics of the day, the subtle sadnesses and thousand tiny triumphs and the mess and beauty of it all--yup: epiphany. No matter how deep the chaos of any moment feels, it will pass. It will pass.

I can't say that sometimes a part of me doesn't recall those long, still moments on a beach somewhere, or sitting for hours in a cafe--and yet, the epiphanies I have now feel somehow more authentic--more tested, perhaps. They feel more right for the path I am called to walk. Surely others have their own paths, frought with different epiphanies, different sadnesses and triumphs, but I feel a sense of gratefulness for mine.

My new epiphanies feel like those stones along the shores of such oceans--those stones that have been washed up and then taken back into the deep waters, time and time again, where they are tossed and shifted and combed over and over and over until all that's left is the appreciation for what is, not what once was.