What I learned from Carly today
Carly Elizabeth was no longer an infant, or even a toddler in my eyes, even though technically ‘toddler,’ meaning to walk unsteady, bridges all the way to age three and Carly is now just racing up to two years young. It is hard to put a finger on what changed exactly, but it did. I am amazed how sensitive, alert, perceptive and even sophisticated she is. I’ve never heard the term sophisticated used to describe a two year old. Who’s not paying attention?
I shouldn’t be surprised. Carly has been changing, and dramatically, every day since the moment of conception. Every second around 700 new neural connections have been forged. That’s 42,000 each minute, 2,520,000 each hour, 60,480,000 new branches each day for a whopping four-hundred-twenty-three million, three-hundred–sixty-thousand (423,360,000) each week. Yes, that’s right, 22,014,720,000 the first year and almost 44,029,440,000 (forty-four trillion, twenty-nine million, four-hundred-forty thousand assuming a linear progression which is far too simple. And I only have ten fingers to keep track.) These connections are tiny lights flashing, like the Aurora Borealis, every second - and expanding, and expanding. There is both, this expanding and a distilling, an exponential unfolding, like a fuzzy image becoming sharp as the lens is turned, and experience is the lens.
I carried Carly high at my eye level across the street and into the hardware store. While the attendant cut a flat strip of aluminum, Carly and I opened row after row of metric nuts and bolts, thirty different sizes in pull-out drawers. She reached and removed what caught her eye, twisted and turned and placed it back in its correct box. Time disappeared. We don’t say much; ‘Ooh la la – or look at this’. Then it was off, back across the street to the bench where she sat watching as I bent the metal into hooks to hold a sign for our gallery. Down she climbed to open Joseph’s lunch box and retrieve a graham cracker he leaves just for her. I opened wide and she offered a taste. Munching our stolen cracker we walked next door for two scoops, crazy coconut and strawberry ice-cream. Back on the bench was fifteen minutes of ice-cream sculpting with two spoons. Sometimes I follow her and at others, she tags along with me. And that is how it goes, two friends sharing experiences together effortlessly.
I have said this before but it is strange how complete Carly is. There is and has been a whole person there from the beginning, scanning, sensing, experiencing, leaning, refining, testing, expanding, exploring. Bed time has been a chore from the beginning. Why go to sleep when we are having such a good time? Nursing has been the favored strategy but sometimes that nip is over and Carly is not. What then, the stroller, another twenty minutes in the car? Recently, to everyone’s surprise, I have taken to holding Carly close to my heart, leaning back in the nursing rocker, whispering how important it is to rest and what a good time we will have when she awakes. She fidgets to find a comfortable position, but not nearly as much as she does just lying in bed. Then comes a deep breath followed by her beautiful body relaxing, melting. What a joy for us both, and for Z not being on call. This melting together has been going on for a week or two, long enough to become a pattern. You know the feeling, snuggling quietly, closely, with a lover. There is something deep and primal being shared, exchanged, an energetic resonance that all the pop songs echo; ‘I will love your forever, ‘or screaming, ‘don’t take my love away.’
Jean Liedloff spoke of ‘grounding of energy’ with skin to skin contact, and our little ones are overflowing bundles of energy. Buddhists speak of emptiness. Krishnamurti preferred the word silence. Ram Dass popularized the phrase ‘be here now.’ Back to attunement; energy flows where attention goes. Are we quietly busy, inwardly contributing to the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party as we rock in that chair, or are we melting? If we are melting there is no time, no agenda, the thought, ‘how long is this going to take,’ doesn’t exist. There is no conflict. In this and a thousand different ways each day being with Carly Elizabeth is a meditation, a choice; subtle or not so subtle conflict or shared melting, being fully present, sharing this experience together, as Paramahansa Yogananda, author of The Autobiography of a Yogi would say; awake and ready.
As Carly sprints towards her second birthday celebration, and every day is a celebration, cheerfully babbling new words and phrases on the spot, the world she is bursting into is cracking at the seams, unraveling; environmentally, economically, political corruption out of the shadows is a sideshow, reality TV. But this reality is, as Joseph Chilton Pearce would say a counterfeit. Future Shock, the state of human consciousness with its attention deficit unable to keep up with exponential change is the new norm. We are disoriented, chronically unsure; an anxious ‘what next’ lurks like Jack ready to jump out of the box.
Melting with Carly means an intentional retreat from this internalized shock with its distractions. With this retreat David Bohm observed a resetting; the brain and nervous system return to their natural order, an optimum state where the immediate action of non-cognitive intelligence replaces our well-intended misadventures. The intelligence Bohm is referring to is not knowledge, not known. With complete attention, Krishnamurti noted, there is no observer, no knower. The separation cognitive-knowledge imposes disappears. This is what Yogananda means by awake and ready which is a perfect description of Carly Elizabeth at 23 months. She is awake and ready. The counterfeit reality disappears with the deep breath Carly takes as she melts carrying the real me along – melting with her.