The little boy arrives and appears at
the oddest most opportune times. He says hi. Everything is good. It’s
quite possible that an hour or two earlier, on the distant planet
that is his house up the street, he has been scolded or beaten or
perhaps given frozen waffles and scrambled eggs with nothing in them
but tasteless cheese. Hi. I am here. Hi. I have nothing but time. Hi.
Aren’t you glad? I am. Hi. The subject is unimportant. The subject
is everything and nothing. There is no subject. Did you know tomorrow
is my dad’s birthday? No, I didn’t know that. Because I didn’t
tell you? You did tell me. Oh. Did you know? I know now. Because I
told you? Yes. How else would I know? Imagine you’re an angel and
you’ve just awakened after a sleep of a thousand years and you
wonder what to do with your tongue. And then suddenly you hear
yourself singing, and it’s so beautiful you break down into tears.
Hi. Is that not also the meaning of love?
Little boy with thin, reddish-blond
hair and fragile web of tiny-warm words, tasting a ripe blueberry,
watching the sunflower-bees, here-and-not-here, angel and dream, who
lives up the street and leaves with grimace and cry when his
angry-sad mother yells — see you again soon, perhaps in another
realm, where willows grow and water flows, and tigers swallow tales
and monarchs rain in the garden, dear.
My mother was born on this day in 1922.
I remember sitting up with her in her later years, as she was
startled and frightened anew with each childish explosion in the
neighborhood, and calming her with my voice as she tried to
understand what was happening. It was heartbreaking, just as it’s
heartbreaking to think that flags and smoke and simulated war sounds
are seen as an expression of freedom. For me, the simple truth that
even one person, or one animal, might suffer by such a display, is
enough to dispense with it altogether. But it runs much deeper than
that. Much deeper. Freedom is not a taunting pose or demonstration of
power. It is not the drawing of a line one dares others not to cross.
It is not something one achieves at the expense of others more
vulnerable. It is not a feeble shower of sparks against an infinitely
immense night sky. Quite simply, freedom does not, and cannot, exist
without love. And how does one express that love? By living it, of
course. By not placing oneself at the center of the universe and
assuming all else revolves around him. By thinking of others. By
passing through one’s time on this earth as lightly and consciously
and gratefully as possible. By — but, enough. I’ve said too much
already. Life is beautiful just as it is. I love you. Happy Birthday.