life as understood

by jeff carr, master of the arts, -------------------------------------------------------------------------- presumably from a couch


the grand scheme

courtesy of Jeff |

a work in progress

Today, my baby girl is three months old. Three lunar cycles, more or less. But it was my son's diaper that made me late yesterday, one full rotation of the earth ago.

By the time I got down to the Jeep with my running shoes, Uncle Greg was already in the driver's seat. He sat with the engine off, listening to NPR. "What do you think about the Higgs boson particle?" he asked. The name sounded familiar, but I hadn't heard the news -- that this morning, physicists at CERN announced they had almost certainly discovered it, the so-called "God particle" that may be all around us, and may explain how mass is created. The implications are enormous.

By the time we reached the base of Bald Mountain, the report ended, leaving us to consider the cosmos on our own. As we hiked past the mountain bikers and up the rocky trail, we hit on topics ranging from the origins of the universe to extraterrestrial life to the Sumerians' and other ancient measurements of time and distance. More accurately, I inquired and he responded. I inhaled his observations, as I always do, along with his dust.

Avery came out way ahead of schedule, but only spent a couple extra days in the hospital. She's strong. Already she looks like her brother and smiles with her mouth wide open. She has a large birthmark on the second toe of her tiny right foot -- an evolutionary anomaly.

She's our second unexpected child. Twice now, life has been created in spite of our unenlightened schedules and plans. I tend to be too liberal with that information, as though it makes me less irresponsible somehow. After all, among the educated elite of 2012 California, walking around with two offspring while only having experienced 27 revolutions of our tiny planet around the sun is ludicrous. Allowing the universe (God and/or nature) to foul up a resume or a happy hour betrays weakness. The fittest become those who decline to perpetuate their species.

One of the great ironies is that in fact, having children doesn't fully allow one to keep up with the pace of that society. I can't read all the articles, attend all the receptions my single acquaintances do when I'm not only changing diapers, but occasionally working extra hours to pay for the diapers. As a result, I lately find myself falling behind in worldly conversations. With so much in our ever-expanding universe to see, learn, and experience, it seems a crime to erect such personal-enlightenment roadblocks by producing and focusing on a new life outside one's own.

It seems that way, but then, it isn't, is it? The truth is, I wish my wife and I had possessed the foresight to want children as quickly as we got them. No experience could be more formative, more refining. Considering the vast expanse and the history of mankind on a cosmic scale is exhilirating, and doing so perched on an overlook high in my Idaho mountains is all the more fitting. But thinking on that scale isn't terribly useful to most. When I returned home from the hike, I smelled my daughter's hair as I drew her up to my chest. We locked eyes, and then -- then, the earth spun a little faster. Time is relative, and creating mass is not the same as creating life. I suspect nothing is. I suspect science would say that in her, I find my cosmic, evolutionary charge, my raison d'etre, to carry on my species and see it progress, however minutely. And that's great. All I know is I hope she never stops smiling.