Before we delve into complaints and whining about our culture's failure to provide for its children, let's spend some time establishing why we care about the failure. Let's illustrate the intense love a parent has for a child, that I have for Sharky. Let's start doing this from the beginning...
Sharky was born by planned c-section for reasons pertaining to his mother's safety and health. This meant that she was in post-op during those moments when the baby is being cleaned, checked over, and then passed into the arms of the anxious parent.
So it was I alone who followed the nurses into a dimly lit room, where I was vaguely aware of the presence of other sleeping babies. I stood a few feet back as they placed him on a small table with a bright light shining down upon it. They poked him under arms, in various crevasses, prodded him here and there, as he yelped in protest, squinted, and squirmed.
After some time, they backed me into a rocking chair and placed the child into my arms. I think the nurses disappeared at that point, but perhaps they were standing there and it was just the entire earth that melted away.
He opened his eyes, looking across the room. His eyes darted from place to place, and he seemed somewhat alarmed to find himself here.
Then his eyes glanced up into mine and stayed there. He looked up at me, full of wisdom and a knowing I had never witnessed before and never imagined existed. His stare was not one of exuberance, or of comfort or pacification. It was one of solemn recognition, and it was shared by both of us. There was an overwhelming feeling of reunion, as if I was looking directly into a soul I had shared many travels with over countless millenniums, in unimaginable forms and worlds. My own existence has been, and will continue to be, joyfully intertwined with the one resting in my arms right now, and the care and love I take in nurturing it, I do the same for my own.
I, having been too long away from such ways of understanding, was stunned by this sensation. He, being so newly arrived to our world, was not phased in the least. He stared at me with tremendous care but without excitement, as if to say,”oh, hello...you're here too.” He then glanced back around the room for a moment with puzzlement, then back to me as if to say, “where do we find ourselves?”
I realized then that, having arrived shortly before him to this “dream of the red chamber,” as Cao Zhan calls it, it would be my duty to shepherd him through it.
Some might be inclined to say that these are all my interpretations of the events of July 1, 2002. But in actuality nothing could be less accurate. This was universal truth, the one moment of my adult life where I existed beyond interpretation, beyond words, beyond thought. There I was, face to face with my own reality and the reality of all...a sensation that many, upon experiencing it, have interpreted as god.
And it simply was.
Nearly six years later, I am still imbued with grace when I recall those precious moments. At any place, any time, I can reflect upon it and feel the strength swell inside me.
Nearly six years later, I still struggle to put what I saw that day into words, and still worry that the attempt to do so will somehow skew what really was.
And also nearly six years later, as I write this, Sharky sits a few feet away watching a Youtube video of the Incredible Hulk doing battle with a squadron of robots and helicopters, set to the soundtrack of some very bad Latino pop music. It is not all mysticism and epiphanies. The culture had a nasty habit of intruding through a process known as permeation.
But I feel confident the intrusions are just that: intrusions. And they will with time and consistent effort recede, and the fibers of what we know exists will remain unbroken.
The sage is shy and humble – to the world
he seems confusing.
Others look to him and listen.
He behaves like a little child.
- Lao Tzu