Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeing through the Eyes of Others

Six months ago, we met our first grandchild, a beautiful girl. This week, I've been caring for her, learning to see the world through her eyes and help her on her way. These hours with her reminded me of the first days of her life and an essay I wrote for, originally posted in May 2012. The essay appears below.
She loves to rest her head upon the chest of her family. Beating hearts comfort her; the steady movement of breathing reassures her.

She loves to pull her head up in order to see the face of the person who holds her. When she lies in our arms and Sleep looses its hold upon her, she studies the faces above her, evaluating them, perhaps memorizing them. She has not yet found a face that fails to fascinate.

She also studies the colors and shapes in her world, the light and shadow. She sees and learns: red stripes upon her nursery wall mesmerize; shades of orange against ocean blue around her play pad fascinate; her mommy’s original photographs captivate.

At her first photo session, when she was but eleven days old, she held her own head up so long that staff asked, “How old is she?” With this confirmation from outsiders, we believe she is as strong as we suspected and a step or two ahead of her peers.

She trusts the arms that reach for her and has not felt insecure or frightened yet. I only hope that she will always believe she is a good judge of character. More important, I hope she will always trust her instincts so that she may avoid people whose intentions are not good.

She protests new experiences as well she might, but having tested the newness, she reflects and relaxes. Her first shampoo was fraught with cries and complaints. Her second, in her mommy's, was tranquil. She enjoyed having her head gently massaged.

She dwells in love.

Her parents are nervous. They fret and hover.

Grandparents, having passed beyond the nervous state with their own children, simply enjoy this greatest wonder of this world, oft repeated, never dull, always personal, inspirational, and humbling.
As you imagine characters that rest in the arms of Trust and Love, reflect upon the infants you have known and loved. They will inform and inspire you.
Reading Challenge:

Read Watership Down by Richard Adams. Not only will you find a tale as grand as Tolkien's, you will find characters as diverse and appealing as all great novels provide.

Writing Challenge:

Capture the essentials of someone you love dearly. What sights, sounds, and scents call this person to mind for you? Be specific, but write freely, without regard for form or continuity. Revision always follows creation.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics):

In the second paragraph of the essay quoted above, the word sleep begins with a capital letter. There's no rule that requires me to use a capital letter there, but in that sentence, sleep is a metaphorical figure, one that tightens and loosens the bonds of sleep. In order to make that metaphor more apparent, I elected to capitalize the word as if Sleep were a god--as it seems to be on those nights when sleep eludes me.