Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ladders or Fences?

Tonight, Tyler climbed the small wooden fence in our backyard to talk to the neighbors' dogs--Oscar and Prince. While the dogs roamed their own yard, looking for a place to deposit the churned up outcome of their day's intake, I peeked out from the kitchen, while heating up some left-over pasta, to see Tyler standing there talking to them.

"Hi Oscar! Hi Prince!"

The dogs look up in wonder, glee.

"I am just talking to you now, because daddy is inside getting my food and his food ready because we going to eat dinner in a few minutes."

Prince gives a single bark. Oscar tilts his head.

"Daddy will talk to you when he comes out with the food. That's okay? Okay. Good one."

Tyler climbs down from the fence and runs to the back door, where I am already waiting.

"I told Oscar and Prince that you will talk to them in a little bit. That's okay Daddy?"

Something about the way Tyler says the words to me, the innocence with which he just climbed the fence to talk to you fully expecting them to comprehend his every word, the way that imagination and concern for others--even for dogs--is etched on my son's face as he says the words to me--something.


And the something that Tyler has just sparked and touched inside of me suggests I look at the pot of reheated pasta, the mess in the kitchen that we left in a rush this morning, the rejections I receive as a writer, the very hard work Jen has had to do on her literature review, the nighttime wake-ups with some of Tyler's recent bad dreams, the constant wondering if I'm learning enough, living with wisdom, and more importantly, living with love--

All of it.

The something in me that Tyler touches with his feet just a bit off the ground is, in a word, the need to get my feet off the ground every once in a while, too. To remember that climbing fences is always a better pursuit than climbing ladders. For while climbing ladders afford us higher views, perhaps more stuff to surround ourselves with--fences offer us, instead, places to stand from which we might peer over and see other souls, other lives. Places from which we might yell out in a child-like way, expecting contact, communion.