I’m in Louisville for the month to see my daughter. Though I take every chance I get to see her, it’s not nearly often enough, I’m ashamed to admit. This is decidedly the motivating factor behind a few aspirations, ultimately all rolled into one: to write, both blogs and novels, and to teach myself web design. See, my daughter’s stepfather is a military man, and so he moves/ transfers every few years. If I want to spend the most amount of time with my daughter, ideally I have to be able to work from wherever I have internet access. Hence the attempted career shift to an entirely mobile one.
So, again, I’m here in Louisville to spend a month or so, which I like to do every so often. The writing environment, while satisfactory, is less than ideal, mainly because I’m simply not focused on it. While I’m here, the trivialities of my daughter’s life become my own, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way (no greater pleasure exists, in fact), it means that my writer’s brain must take a backseat to my father’s brain. Instead of waking up with the remnants of my dreams floating through my head, I wake with a mission: to see my daughter (her name is Jessica, by the way) off to school, to start her day properly. It’s a solid two and a half hours after I wake before I even begin to think of anything remotely resembling writing material. At home, I make myself stay away from the computer for an hour, at least, after I wake up, and perhaps do a small workout or read a bit. The freedom of my thoughts, though, allow my writer’s brain to stir during these precious morning hours, and usually by the time I sit down at my desk, those thoughts are begging to be penned. Not so here, as I’ve said. There- you have my excuse.
Another thought that emerges in regard to the writer’s brain: I missed the opportunity to audition for two wonderful plays in my absence: Beckett's Waiting for Godot (arguably the best play ever written) and Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The experience of being in a show in and of itself is an extremely valuable thing, but the material that is produced by stepping inside the world of another writer (the playwright) is immeasurable. Creativity, to use the term in its loosest sense, is an extremely contagious thing. I’ve yet to meet a creator who is not spurred on by immersing themselves in the creative works of others, especially those more talented. Part of this philosophy is reflected in the fact that the best writers are also the best readers.
Moving on- as I’ve said, it’s the most glorious of feelings to immerse myself in another creative pursuit- the molding of my daughter’s very self. There is, I think, no greater pursuit, and no greater challenge than the finest of lines that must be walked between directing a young mind, and letting that mind flourish of its own accord, wandering where it may. The desire between shielding her from harm and allowing her to make her own mistakes is mental tug-of-war that never ends. An example: yesterday, while jumping on the trampoline in the backyard with Jess and the neighbor’s boy, he revealed to me that she had broken his heart (they have... what’s the word for seven-year-old dating? We’ll go retro and use “going steady”). Later, Jess lamented that fact, telling me that she had only “broken up” with this boy so as not to upset her best friend, who was angry with her for even having liked him in the first place. Of course, this is a fine line to walk for her, too- where to draw that line between protecting the feelings of a friend and remaining true to your own feelings? I wanted so desperately to inform her of the ways of the world, what she should do, and how she should react- but this is something which she must not only learn for herself, but experience for herself. No amount of talk from me will embed in her fragile psyche the repercussions of the delicate dance of romance v. friendship.
She also inspires me to no end. The other morning, while waiting with her at the bus stop, she told me that she’s so fast that she can outrun the clouds. She spoke these words without the faintest trace of inhibition on her face. As far as she was concerned, she could indeed outrun the clouds. As an adult, we often feel that such blind and boundless optimism can be quite hazardous. Perhaps optimism, though, isn’t even the correct terminology here. She has an unbridled faith in herself- a characteristic from which the vast majority of adults I know could benefit wildly. I can’t help but wonder how much some of the people I love would have accomplished had they had this very same level of faith in themselves. Regret, as they say, lies only in the past, though, and the past is something which my daughter will have none of. Neither does she care much for the future, which, to extend the phrase, begets anxiety. She’s interested only in now, for as far as she’s concerned, the present is the only time that matters. The consequences of that philosophy couldn’t be any clearer- I see it in her face every time she’s enjoying the present moment. If you look at the face of the nearest child, you’ll see it, too. That’s not just the expression of a cherub-faced future grown-up: it’s the visible embodiment of now. And when you realize that simple truth, how truly great now really is.