|Ceramic, "The Chid is the Father of the Man," by Richard Nickel.|
Duality marks our days, the simultaneous holding on and letting go, forever sifting, hoping to fit a disguise on our least-loved parts like a slipcover over an embarrassing chair. What I forget, what I assume many of us forget, is the way our golden child self echoes through the great din of real-life struggles. In hand-to-hand combat with minor vexations or challenges that loom larger than continents, we are not just hapless, aged grown-ups trying to be wise. Our child hearts, what we loved and love still, have not left us. In spite of the years, the decades of visible erosion brought on by illness and loss, trauma and circumstance, who we were at our most forgiving, optimistic, dream-fueled and gentle best remains to buoy us through dark waters.
When I am not fog-bound by the miasma of modern living, I am able to recognize, mostly through what resonates deeply, the presence of a surprisingly sturdy girl. She recently became clearer to me as I saw in my visiting brother the presence of a wonderful, wonder-filled boy not eclipsed in any way by the senior citizen costume he wears. As though he had smuggled the child in his suitcase, the boy stood by the dining table, reminding me with his bright smile of baseballs and fish caught, roads traveled, puzzles solved, early passions undimmed. Of course he became the man that he is, as did his friends, no longer adolescent wizards of automobile mechanics but grandfathers also for whom car talk will always be their first language.
It no longer feels so surprising that we prevail impossibly against tides and wind. These resilient young incarnations who have been with us, who are us, provide strength beyond our abilities of the moment. We are here because, no matter how it felt, we have not had to do this alone. Wearing a favorite turtle-print shirt or length of red cotton tied as a cape, they champion our causes, defend the banner. The child is father of the man, how did I not remember?