February 6, 2013 —
During a long life, one loses things. I was warned that in moving out of our long-time city residence things would be lost. I was prepared. But what about the things that are found? This, I was not prepared for.
A letter to my young son, handwritten on unlined paper was among the found objects. It had been tucked into some other papers and could have easily ended its obscure life in a clear plastic recycling bag.
To Conor, age 7
Re: “Do you know why we’re here?”
Having had a moment to consider your (most profound) question, I came up with the following. This is, as it must be, not so much “knowing” as believing and you may, in time, find your own answer. I hope that you will.
The natural earth, without mankind, lives in an almost perfect synchrony or balance. There is enough food for the animals, water is plentiful. Winters and natural disasters kill off the weak and make way for the young. Forests rise up from ashes.
So why man? If you suspect, as I do, that a force of creation begat our earth and all its beings (some say a “God”) then you must ask, “Why beget Man, who is the monkey wrench in all this synchrony?”
As the only beings on earth with critical thinking skills, we are also the only beings capable of appreciation of all the earth’s glory, and therefore capable of its praise. Perhaps our creator, my theory goes, needed some praise for its efforts. Certainly we supply it. And if you believe we are created in the image of our creator, you recognize that we demand praise in all our endeavors and thrive on it.
We supply this praise of creation in all we do. Music, dance, literature, architecture and engineering, science and finally, our own procreation. The highest form of reverence and appreciation of life is the continuation of our kind. Beyond that there is only love. Love must be the truest expression of love of our creation/creator. No other being supplies it. No creative being can live without it.
That is your simple mother’s take on the oh-so-large question that you posed (after having already determined that you did not mean to ask “Why are we on Franklin Street?”)
The letter touched me on many levels. For one thing, I don’t recall being such a mystic about creation. For another, I wonder how many people write letters to their seven year olds anymore, or if I still would, given so much electronic communication.
My daughter, while hauling a trunk from storage took the liberty of further exploring her mother’s past. “Mom, who was Wentworth?” she asked with a raised eyebrow. She had found a letter I wrote that spoke of our long walks by the river, of my cutting school to be with him. Her interest was piqued. “Wenty,” a large dark companion of my youth had been my brother’s canine, I informed her.
There were other letters in that trunk, some written by actual humans. After re-reading some of them myself, all I could say in exasperation was, “Men!” None of them were from my husband. The person I was before I met him had been patient to a fault. I was seeing that for the first time with the advantage of my new perspective.
Moving is about more than finding a new home or even a new neighborhood, it’s about finding things about yourself that you’d forgotten. It’s a gift that eclipses all those possessions we struggle to collect and store and the best way I know to rediscover your life.