Each day now, my first perception is a stirring from the nursery. Some days I hear my daughter’s voice through the baby monitor, and sometimes just through the air. Every so often, I wake up a minute before the sound comes, and feel nothing but simple awareness without the weight of purpose. The sound comes, and duty fills the space. I shuffle off to empty my bladder so that I can give my full attention to the opening acts of the day: changing the diaper and bringing her to still-sleepy Mother for that first sacred meal. As they have their moment, I excuse myself to get the rest of the way into the third dimension.
I was never a morning person, though I find myself occupying the dawn quite frequently. I don’t meant to suggest that I resent these rituals. Truth told, that first glimpse of my daughter’s face is often the most treasured moment of the day, especially if she wakes peacefully and meets my eye with love as I enter the room. To see the smile of your own child, coming to you raw and whole and unaffected, is to bask in the kingdom of Heaven. Each day I accept the challenge of meeting her there, and reflecting that love back to her fully.
I won’t pretend that I achieve this as well as I’d like to. Though I am happier now than I have ever been and find myself growing up at last, deep beneath my genuine gratitude I often find a certain amorphous sadness. I have no illusions about this being a unique situation or one that deserves particular sympathy. I reckon that, more than anything, it is merely the local echo of a sound which permeates all life on Earth and mankind in particular. I believe it is the silent cry of a weary world, exhausted by the cycle of abuse brought on by delusions of separateness, longing to return to balance with itself.
That word mankind bothers me. It implies unity among a species which can barely cooperate with itself. It of course includes a bias toward the male in a world where the idea of being male (or gendered at all) is a relatively new one. Because I have a tendency to take things literally, I automatically argue with the word. Man is not kind, as a rule.
I am grateful for all the little lights in the dark that represent exceptions. I am aware that there is, with each new generation, a little less ignorance and a little more empathy. Each new crop of humans finds the beliefs of the last to be antiquated and casts them aside. Quite often I wonder what our little girl, when she is not so little, will believe.
I very much hope that in twenty years, our family can look back at the tenuous world she was born into and laugh with relief at the progress that has been made. I find that I do not subscribe to the plastic utopia promised by surrender to technology or to the certainty of dystopia (Why do we have this death-urge?) that I once had. When I consider the future, I can only imagine that it is the mystery that it always was.
I want a better world for our little girl, but also for everyone else. I want a world that runs on cooperation rather than competition. I want a world that is not built on the bones of the invisibly oppressed and lubricated by the blood of the innocent. I do not know if such a world can be built by human hands, but we have to do it anyway. No other work has any real meaning, and I think this is why so many of us feel so hollow at times when we are not distracted, but I can only speak for myself.
So much of what is pushed as normal is simply unsustainable, benefitting only a few at the expense of everyone else, therefore it is insane to cooperate with the status quo. Time is not on our side if we continue to live as if only our own interests matter, and as if the world we must share were our combination playground and toilet. This machine that we are conditioned into participating in can only destroy us in the end. It’s now or never. We need not become one more Rome, or one more dinosaur story in the fossil record. We can beat this. We can get right.
We can no longer look to authority for the solutions. We must choose kindness over exploitation. We must choose uncomfortable truth over willful blindness. We must find ways in our individual lives to subvert, unplug, unlearn, and above all to make the time to listen to the voice beneath the noise which calls us back to service and harmony.
I sometimes get the oddest feeling. It is as if I have become aware of being a character in a film, and the film is the history of the human experience. I do at times languish, exhausted by the drama and horror that surrounds us despite being ignored. At other times, I get surges of hope, and I feel that, yes, this is a film, and we’re just in the climax. We will come around just in time, like in every other story. We will see the darkness shrink and the truth prevail. We will leave the old ways behind at last.
The cynic in me, the film critic as it were, expects us to be crushed beneath the weight of our error and perish. I see that voice in many other forms today. It is very loud, and it is easy to succumb to its propaganda. I prefer to believe instead that we will be vindicated, and that no one alive can imagine the glory of a world built with wisdom and love.
I fight daily to stay on the side of that dream.