We were back at my mother’s house after her funeral sitting around talking and eating for hour after hour as you do. After the number of people around the dining room table dwindled to a precious few, the conversation bounced between memories, travels, the difference between pizza and a tomato pie. And more serious things, at which point a cousin remarked, “This sure isn’t the country or world I wanted to bring my kids into.”
Despite my own privileged life I understood exactly what he meant and felt my anger and disappointment rise at what I then thought were the truth of his words.
On the drive back to the hotel, I repeated his remarks to Sue and again felt my mad.
So I planned to use this week’s post to expand, enumerate, and rant about all the shitty things we have going on in the US and around the world.
But a funny thing happened on my way to this post. Days later I no longer feel the same hot rage despite the horrors that beset *most* of the world’s population and our insane politics and violence. John Coltrane’s rendition of My Favorite Things (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I6xkVRWzCY) started to rattle around inside my head and just wouldn’t let go. Wouldn’t let go until I realized what he was trying to tell me, which had nothing to do with teardrops and roses.
Coltrane was telling me to look a little deeper. Or at least ask myself the question: What would our children have missed had they not been brought into this world even with all its horrors?
Obviously you can’t miss an existence you were never introduced to, but what about these losses?
A parent’s love, caring and tenderness–whatever culture, however offered, touches, looks, and warmth, those early moments, years–even in the most dire of circumstances. And maybe even more mindboggling, the opportunity to feel that love and caring for a child.
Friendships. I know that my life would feel close to nonexistent without them. Might even have preferred the nothingness. Again there is the pleasure of seeing this richness in my kids’ lives. I watched how they and their friends played, comforted, helped, and were there for each other. And still are. There’s beauty in sharing your life with others. A beauty which I expect will continue throughout my life and theirs.
No, love is not all anyone needs. We know that. But it really is something that nothingness never delivers.
Learning, of all kinds. The opportunity to learn about people different from ourselves, cultures different than our own, clothes, styles, faces that we find unusual and exotic. The opportunity to realize again and again that the world is wildly diverse and yet people are also the same. These pleasures have no geographical, or even language limitations.
Learning new ideas. Discovering what we didn’t and don’t know. Meeting people who expand our thinking and vision. Trying to keep a sliver of your mind open so you can change it and let it grow. What a loss if all there were was nothingness.
And of course, the arts. Nothing would include no music, no books, no movies, no plays, no poetry, no dance, no paintings, no Monday posts, (though that might please a number of you). The entire world donates to this grand mosaic and nothingness makes all that vanish. Not a trade I’d make for myself or my children.
I could continue. Science, the give and take in discussions between people, the arguments that shed light as well as darkness, the sun, moon, sky and stars. But enough already. You get my point.
I have no doubt that I’ll be ranting and railing against the cruelty and injustice between people and countries soon enough, maybe even next Monday–all of those throughout these Mondays. But I also have no doubt that I am glad to have brought children into the world—even this one. I only hope they make a dent in it.