Little Children

How often I feel like a confused child, looking skyward for guidance, desperately wanting to be told, “this is why things are the way that they are. This is what you must do.” There is no such explicit guidance, except maybe in a god or higher power, but even from that we are never really told why. We adults are little children playing dress up, paying bills, pretending we know what the hell is happening. We don’t. At least – not me. Sometimes I think I do, sometimes I really believe that my ideas and opinions are so rooted in fact and proof and truth, and maybe sometimes they are, but even inside of that there is the unknown.

Yeats said, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” The more I stand in a place of not knowing, a place of wonder and openness, the more I love. The vulnerability of it unlocks my heart, which I have noticed, prefers to close out of fear and self-preservation. Out of conviction. Ok, I can believe this one thing, despite sometimes deeply doubting it – that I am loved and deserve as much.

In the wake of horrible tragedies, how much we want to know. How much we want our beliefs, be they political or religious or cultural or personal to be correct. Perhaps some people are right. Points are made, many of which seem valid. I have no answers, except that for as long as we have been living, evil and ugly have existed, and that for as long as we have been living, so have goodness and beauty. Can we prevent against such darkness in certain ways? Possibly. Is there a sure-proof solution? I don’t know.

For now, I have to rest in the not knowing and holding my little child tight, because she is scared. We all must be. The angry people are scared and the ones with all the answers are scared. Even the strongest, bravest, most defended humans can never escape fear and danger completely. We are, as Ellen Bass wrote, “pinned against time,” and that “time is a goon,” as Jennifer Egan explained, and we don’t know when that goon will visit us. In the meantime, cliche as it sounds, I will try to love fiercely (which sounds so easy and honestly is not) and sit and listen.

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