Saturday, May 19, 2012

Layers

Over the last week, I have spent a lot of time watching my children; Watching them play, sleep, pick fights, or pick their noses. Whatever the activity; big or small...I have simply been in awe of their movements. Taking it all in, observing them and thinking.

 I have always been a very "hands on" parent. Sometimes, I have been too involved.

This is probably why my five-year-old daughter still yells, "Mom, I'm through!", after she poops.

I once read, "Adults are just children that have acquired layers." As I sat on the sidelines, as a silent observer to my children's activities this week, that phrase kept playing through my mind. Now, it won't come as a shock to anyone reading this, that the primary reason for my reflection and deep thought is because of my son's current health dilemma.

Here is one thing I've realized during this week's sessions of deep thinking:

The human body is an amazing thing. In a normal human body, there are two-hundred and six bones. Connected to these bones are approximately six-hundred and forty muscles. Intertwined with these muscles to make a muscular afghan, of sorts, are somewhere in the range of eight-hundred ligaments. Adding to this blanket of body support are thousands of tendons. Too many to count. 78 organs. Millions of veins and arteries. Trillions of cells. All of these things function on their own. As long as we give our bodies proper nutrition, ample amounts of water and don't fall prey to any kind of dibilitating sickness....Our bodies function on their own. Autonomically. Our heart beats. Our lungs expand. Our cells divide. Our bodies are remarkable things, but the human brain...it might be the most interesting thing of all.

We can use our brain to control our motor skills. Even as I type this sentence, my brain is telling my fingers what to do. Which keys to press. What words to type. When I make a mistake, my brain tells me to use my pinky finger to tap on the "backspace" key to erase my error. I could wax poetic about all of the intricacies of the human brain...how it functions...what it's comprised of...but I won't. The most amazing thing about the human brain, in my opinion, is that there is nothing to keep the human mind from thinking. Our cognitive thought process is often a rogue system that is not ruled by any system of checks and balances. For instance, if I hold my breath and stop the autonomic process of allowing oxygen into my bloodstream, one of two things will happen:

1.) I will realize it's futile to try to hold my breath that long, and give up

Or...

2.) I will be stubborn, tell my mind it can't tell me what to do, and hold my breath until I pass out...and when that happens, my lungs will automatically take in oxygen, causing me to slowly awake from the short nap that my body insisted I take.

There are several things we are able to control, but the thought process...the way the mind itself works...we cannot. Thus, I have been victim to my own thoughts. Even after the world has slowed down, televisions and lights are turned off, children are tucked into bed and my body is exhausted...even though my eyes close, and my breathing slows...my thoughts race through my mind like a racecar circling a track.

Always going a hundred miles an hour, but ending up where they started.
Burning through gas and using lots of energy, but never really going anywhere.

I have found that running has been very cathartic for my thought process. So while I cannot sleep, I can often turn on my music, and work through my thoughts while running.


Therefore, this is the second thing I have realized while being assaulted by my thoughts this week:

 As I was running through my neighborhood, I noticed that the area in which I live is not so different from a grownup.

 A child with layers, if you will.


On the outer-lying areas of my neighbohood are nice, neat homes. Most of the people that reside in these homes are older people, but there are a few small, young families like mine. Houses are tidy. Yards are well kept. The roads are nice. As I run further from the main road, I notice the pavement beneath my feet becomes more cracked and less even. The houses are slowly falling into disrepair. There are more weeds than grass. More trash on the porch. Less paint on the trim.

These are houses that are inhabitated by people who aren't so different from me. They live lives that parallel my own.  Probably, most of them have children. Some of them might even have sick children. However, even this area that is dismal and depressing most of the time, becomes almost heavenly looking when it's bathed in the soft light of the evening. As I am running down the street, I notice at my feet, laying in piles at the curb are cottonwood seeds. I look up, and that's when I see it.:

The wind has blown cottonwood seeds from a tree nearby... there they float in the soft breeze, and are illuminated by the warm, amber sunlight.

 Little pieces of Heaven just floating through a small, working class neighborhood. It would not be far fetched for me to say that they looked like little sparks of light suspended in the air. I noticed there were several seeds that fell straight to the hard ground below, dallying midair for only a moment... while a few other seeds floated perpendicular to the horizon. (I like to think that these few seeds were somehow defying gravity, and giving Isaac Newton, and the basic laws of the Earth's gravitational pull, a stiff middle finger.)

Although they all looked identical, and all came from the same tree...each seed took a varied path. In spite of the different routes each seed took....they would all end up, eventually, headed in the same direction. Down. So while there are three constants to this puzzle, there is one variable:

The ground upon which the seeds land.What happens to the seed that is blown from the tree all depends on what kind of ground the seed lands on.

Unfortunately, the seeds that had little encouragement from the wind plummeted straight to the ground, joining the hundreds of seeds that fell before them. Lying there in big piles, on the hard pavement, with little chance to sprout or come to fruition.

However, the seeds that were coaxed by the soft winds have more opportunity. A better chance to plant roots. To grow. A chance to inspire thought and realization in a tired mother.
A tired mother, who just happened to run by, and see a pile of cottonwood seeds at her feet.

I know what you're thinking...Gee, Lucy...those were two really nice stories, but how do they relate? how very, "Bill O'Reilly" of you, Lucy...

This is how they relate. My brain that won't shut off....the mind that functions of its own accord, brought me to my final realization of the week:


At the end of the day...we, grownups, are all not so different from one another.

Our lives, our pasts, our childhoods, our parenting skills, our material possesions, our nationalities....those things differ greatly from person to person, but once you peel those layers away....


We all come from the same place. We begin our life journey with all of the same vascular, muscular and skeletal systems. With the same minds and thought processes that run rampant while we try to sleep. The winds that blow through one life...those very winds touch the lives of others in the process.

At the heart of the matter, once you get past all of the menial bullshit that really doesn't mean anything...we are all the same, aren't we?

Children with layers.

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