When I was very little, preschool age, perhaps four years old, I clearly remember pondering this thought, "I wonder what it's like to be Mom." And by that, I didn't mean what it was like to do the things she did, taking care of my sisters, my dad, our dog (Patty R), me, the household. I meant something far deeper.
In our very homey, country kitchen, a tall yellow stool with built-in steps and a flip-up seat, claimed a spot next to the refrigerator. That stool holds a lot of memories. My mom used it daily. I can still hear it creaking as she steps up to put a bowl away. Or get a dish out of a high cabinet. Or both at once. She was very efficient. And brave!
At the beginning of every school year, my sisters and I sat on that little yellow stool to get our flu shots. We all knew the drill. One evening, our dad's bulging sport coat pockets would announce the arrival of his syringes and vaccine, wrapped neatly and closed securely with tight bows in their drab cloth pouch. There was no escaping that shot, but my dad's gentle, skillful touch, and the familiarity of that seat, made it better.
That stool was also my ticket to the countertop. Every Thanksgiving, I'd use it to climb up and claim my seat beside the grinder to help make mincemeat for my mom's amazing pies. I can still hear the motor whirring and feel the wooden plunger vibrating in my hand as I watch long strands of ground beef and suet squeeze through the little holes and fall into the bowl below.
This was my go-to spot in the kitchen as a little boy. From my stool's high perch, I could take in everything. I loved sitting there, just being with my mom. She'd be cooking and cleaning, oblivious to my daydream, and I'd wonder to myself, "What does the stove look like through her eyes?" "What would it feel like to be her, standing there, cutting carrots in her comfy, loose moo moo?" "How does she feel?" "What is she thinking about?" I'd try to imagine every detail of what it would be like to be living her life as she was living it, in her body, from behind her eyes. In short, to be her, mind and body.
I can't remember an earlier existential thought, so perhaps that was my first. For sure, it wasn't my last. My long journey has brought me to a knowing and to the point of this post.
As the wave is water, so are we spirit. And not spirit alone, but spirit from, connected to, and part of, the Source of all that is. And through that, we are all connected, one to another.
I now know that my still developing, circa 1961 four-year-old brain tapped into my eternal consciousness to form those silent questions while sitting on that stool. That very young brain was channeling those thoughts, but it wasn't formulating them. "I" was. My eternal "I." The "I" that inspired the "me," five decades later, to write this post. My eternal "I" knew there was no separation between my mother and me and that our skin was a thin barrier between us. It knew we were waves and we were water, and in that way we were the same, we were one. At four, my wave was still small enough to not get in the way of that knowingness.
This may seem a bit deep for a four-year-old. But then again, maybe that's what four-year-olds do. Maybe four-year-olds know this because water is what they mostly see. Water is what they mostly are. Their wave isn't fully formed. But form it will, and form it must, to receive the gift of their human experience while they make their unique mark on the world. They'll ride their wave and join other waves along the way. But eventually, they'll spot land. They'll see themselves and all the other waves heading to the same destination, wave after wave crashing onto the beach. Wave after wave disappearing at the shoreline.
My four-year-old self had a sense of his wave, but knew for sure he was water. My fifty-nine-year-old self knows with certainty that he is both wave and water, so he's enjoying the ride all the way to the beach. If you're not quite there yet in your knowingness, check in with a four-year-old. They're wise in spite of their youth. Or, perhaps, because of it.
I dedicate this post to my dear grandmother, Nanna, who would have been 113 on this date, July 29. I didn't realize this until I was ready to publish. Earlier in the day, my wife and I were in a Google Hangout with our kids in California when our eldest mentioned she's been craving childhood comfort food now, four months into her pregnancy. Her comment inspired a conversation around cookies and my wife mentioned the vintage (1940's - 1950's) ceramic clown cookie jar we have from Nanna. It's about the only thing I have from her, and I love it. So many childhood memories.
I brought it out of storage along with this little "JUST A DRIP" gem and we all had a laugh without being consciously aware that it was Nan's birthday. That realization hit later. She didn't laugh tons, but it was pretty funny when she did. She had a very witty sense of humor and this little naughty "joke" cracked her up. So I'd have to say that the "water" was running through us all during that call, and Nan had a good laugh with us. We love you, sweetheart! And tell Papa, "Aww skip it!" for us, the next time he doesn't hear what you've said on the third telling. :)