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Fathering In The Tension Of Contradiction

Just had lunch with the kids and the noon sun beaming through the windows lit them in such a way that emphasized the basic fact of their being lit, of the way they constantly appear in light, and I basked in the glow of simply being glad to know them. Times like this yearn to become language, to shine in the light of articulation and cast a shadow on the times I wish they would just shut the fuck up and stop bickering about who had the most sips off a bottle of water.

So there they were and I was glad to know them, these strange little beings, and I took pleasure in knowing that, against so many odds, we had come to know one another. When I consider the massive history of causes and conditions that delivered us to just this lunch, that delivered them to my care and me to theirs, it’s impossible to believe. It feels like magic. What else could it be? I’m so perplexed by our mere appearance in the light at lunch on a Saturday. But then they talk too, and they’re so damn funny.

The way I love my children embroils me in an insoluble contradiction.

I am for the most part a hopeless man living in the 6th major extinction spasm in life’s 3.5 billion year history. I don’t watch the news, read the papers, listen to politicians, protest, hold signs, or argue about how to make things fairer for people. I don’t care about people in an abstract way, at all. I care about the people in my arms and the small assembly of objects that people my life. Particulars. I have come to the conclusion that only a genuine concern for imagination, language, and the things at hand will save us while having no actual faith in our potential for survival. We are going down, three species per hour, and each one takes with it more potential for imaginal form.

The documented quality of life during the old age and death of a culture is grim. So we do what we can. Eat pills and cake. Drink bourbon. Cling to lighthearted philosophies that don’t think too much. Be nicer. Try harder. But the writing’s on the wall. Read it or not, here we come.

And yet when my children shine, appear, arise in the light in all their exalted goofiness, I’m excited for them—for their futures, all of it. I see them in their dense thickets of personal problems, unable to see a way out, not getting out until they do. I see them driving down the highway, at noon, feeling like the world is wide open with anything happening. Anything is always maybe happening. My kids will kiss people, they’ll miss people, and cry. They’ll look at the moon, be stunned by the stars, wonder why. They’ll figure it out, get confused again, and they’ll die.

Hopelessness and hope. How can we love it all?

When lunch was over and we wondered what to do, I told the kids we could go see a movie or burn the house down. “I get to light it!” my son cast his vote. “The house is hot! The house is bright!” my daughter sang. “Let’s burn the fucker down, daddy!” Destruction’s light.

Reader Comments (8)

This is Good.

“The house is hot! The house is bright!” my daughter sang. “Let’s burn the fucker down, daddy!” Destruction’s light.

Meant to be read aloud, I think.

December 10, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterafteriris

I really like this one. I read it aloud as well. It's my favorite since Broken.

December 10, 2011 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered Commenteranymommy

Fuck. This made me weep in a different way than I was previously weeping. And for that I thank you.

December 10, 2011 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenteredenland

Lovely and twisted.

December 11, 2011 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Does your insurance agent read this blog? Let's hope not.

December 12, 2011 at 5:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterthe muskrat

The light.
You nailed it again.
Sometimes the people and places you love glow so fiercely with their light that you can only look at them briefly before your heart bursts.
Thank you for this.

December 16, 2011 at 5:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterKimAZ

Thank you.

December 17, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim W.

This is PRECISELY what makes parenting, and life, for me, worth it all. And right now, most people around me are bugging me because the happy-happy of life, and holidays and kiddies prancing in the snow misses the whole damn point. For me.

December 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterisabel

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