Saturday, March 15, 2008

Changes

The other day I was driving from Houston to Austin and I got a call from an old friend of mine. I've known her for as long as we've both been alive and she became a mom shortly after I became a dad. We were talking about potty training--the ups and downs of the whole thing--and, specifically, we were talking about cleaning out the tiny potty after, well, number two.

I broke into my own conversation, which was in a very descriptive stage, to point out that all the years we've known each other, the subject of cleaning crap out of a plastic receptacle had never really come up before; things had changed a lot in the past couple years. It was a mildly interesting interjection.

I remember when I was really young hearing my grandma say that nothing in this world is constant but change. While I feel that change is constant, the rate of change is fluctuating. If I think about the changes that occurred in my life from ages 15-17, it can't begin to compare to the changes in my life from ages 25-27.

It's like plate tectonics. Pressure and tension build up over time and then WHAM, an earthquake slaps the surface. And now, watching my daughters grow up is like having massive aftershocks every single day. They are expressions of flux, every day growing and learning. They learn more in a single day than I can take in during a semester of graduate school.

Without a doubt the biggest moment of change in my life was when my first daughter was born. It was a palpable feeling; probably something like dying would be. Seriously. Or maybe like being born, myself. I felt like I fell apart and was something else entirely. As much as I've tried to write about that moment over and over in my life, I've never found the right words. I've never come close, and I really don't expect to any more.

The earthquake of that moment is still being felt. In a single instant, priorities shifted forever, concerns toppled, things were put into focus and others taken out of focus, the world that I lived in seems silly and trifling now, and the world now seems multilayered--stratified with superficial concerns on the bottom, ideas of consumerism waddling in the muck going up to petty concerns about money, and the lightest layers floating on top; the joy and mystery of life, the feeling of a baby falling asleep on your chest.

I think it's a shame that some people are able to overcome the power of that change. Some people are able to go back to their old concerns and priorities. Maybe they've just been rooted in them for so long. Maybe they feel that there is time in their lives for everything.

The world is at once infinite and temporary to me, these days. I think it's important to take a moment now and then, see where we've been, and take note of where we are. Where are my priorities today? Have I put them in the right place, or have I fallen into really old habits again? How can I help guide the change that will happen today, push it in a positive direction for my kids? Yes, it's just one day. The world they make today, they will change tomorrow, so every single step counts.

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