I read the book “Blue Nights” last month but unfortunately I’ve become a skimmer. Similar to my recent attitude about relationships, my attention span is no longer capable of hanging in there unless I’m completely spellbound.
So it was interesting to find this quote today:
“When I began writing these pages I believed their subject to be children, the ones we have and the ones we wish we had, the ways in which we depend on our children to depend on us, the ways in which we encourage them to remain children, the ways in which they remain more unknown to us than they do to their more casual acquaintances; the ways in which we remain equally opaque to them.”
― Joan Didion, Blue Nights
* * * * *
Perhaps it only stood out to me after receiving a message from my son’s ex-girlfriend wherein she called him a “nymphomaniac” and stated that
“the joke is his heart belongs to me but his penis is community property.”
She could not have surprised me more if she told me I was growing a tail. I think this means I’m a naive jackass or else Ms. Didion is correct in her assertion that our children remain unknown to us.
I recently read somewhere else that any 10 acquaintances could know us better than we will ever know ourselves, even as we spend a lifetime attempting to do so.
Perhaps the two issues relate to one another.
But this is my little boy, the kid I think of as a computer geek, the child who asked,
“What is birth control for?
Why would you have sex if you don’t want to have a baby?”
Clearly, he’s discovered the answer to his question.
Is it possible for children and their parents to see one another clearly? Maybe not.
This is all new information. I don’t think I’d have believed it even 10 years ago, definitely not 20.
* * * * *
I was surprised reading comments left to my mother on her birthday, it reminded me that she can be entertaining. Her bitterness has clouded that part of her personality for me.
The older I get, the more I realize how harshly I’ve judged her, no matter the good reason. My own bitterness scares me. I want to cast it off and never pick it up again.
She cannot view me as just another person, either. Everything I do reminds her of some flaw in me that she noticed when I was a child. I’m indecisive and messy. I’m promiscuous and always carry an air of superiority in her presence.
Of course, she’s almost always right. She can read things about my behavior that no one else can, perhaps because we carry the same DNA.
Living across country from one another, out of millions of choices, we once sent the same Christmas card.
After all those years of hating her for correcting me, for pointing out my flaws, for telling me I had smelly feet and bad breath and body odor . . . I have a daughter and realize “Ofukme.”
It’s not that she was particularly evil, it’s that teenagers really do stink sometimes.
* * * * *
The other book I’m reading is “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting (the astonishing power of feelings).”
It’s a book I’ve had in the forefront of my mind to read for probably 10 years. I read a few pages and then I look at it some more. It doesn’t recommend just forgiving people, it recommends (insists upon) forgetting.
In other words, unconditional love for everybody.
“I will keep my valve open to well-being no matter what crazy thing you’ve done.” (Remember, you don’t have to change it or even like it; you just have to stop focusing on it!)
“It means ‘I don’t need conditions to be just right to be happy. I’m not going to pay any more attention to your silly habits, because I don’t need everything to be perfect for my love to flow to you.’”
* * * * *
Well at least I know one person in this family has managed to get his love flowing.
Perhaps more than necessary.
(To Be Continued)