AUTHOR’S CAVEAT: I did not have time to make this shorter.
The other day I went to see a man who, for many years, was my mechanic. He’s a delightful man, and for the purpose of this writing, I shall refer to him as Edgar. Edgar has a charming, pretty wife of thirty years. I shall refer to her as Molly. Edgar works at a filling station just blocks from my previous home in Highland Park. Over the years, in spite of the distance, I have continued to take my car to him.
When I turned forty, I shaved my head and body, and had myself baptized. That night, I held a lavish party for myself. I flew my parents in from Colorado, and while it just happened to be between tenants, put them up in the third unit of our triplex. Edgar, and his wife Molly, came to celebrate with me, along with about twenty other people in the one lavish indoor outdoor party of my life.
Over the years, I’ve asked the obvious question one might ask of an intelligent, good looking couple who at that time had been married eight years and had no children. “When are you going to have kids?” I asked. Not everyone should reproduce, but as a former elementary school teacher, I’d like to see our schools filled with little Edgars and Mollys. I imagine the bright, shining faces standing at my desk, ready to ask the next question. “Mr. Mayer, what does the world look like through blue eyes?”
The other day, after not having seen him for a few years, I saw Edgar. I expected him to look more like me; weathered, but to my amazement, he looked younger, better taken care of than ever! I was happy to see that time seems to have been good to Edgar. Then, I opened my big mouth and asked him that question that he probably has gotten used to brushing aside when annoying people ask him, “do you and Molly have any kids yet?” I guess I felt, after knowing him for twenty years, I’d try again. Why did I open my mouth? Why did I ask the same (yes, there are stupid questions), stupid question I had already gotten an answer to years ago.
Was it perhaps the need to express my ideas, no matter how uncreative they may be? Just to hear myself talk? I imagine, like so many of us, I may feel uncomfortable with the silence, and grasp at any small talk (besides my least favorite topic; the weather) to fill the silence.
My friend said to me, “maybe Edgar doesn’t want to hear that. Maybe it is not possible for them to have children.” Seriously, I hadn’t really thought of that, as they both seem so fertile. I had always thought it might have something to do with the fact that Edgar’s mother-in-law has lived with them since before the honeymoon.
My friend was right, but deep down, there is this feeling that I don’t want to accept that these two people have chosen not to become parents – by birth or adoption – or whatever. I failed to recognize this subject might touch a nerve. There are matters that are none of my business, and maybe it’s not taken as the compliment I had thought it to be, maybe it’s just an annoyance that people put up with because they say to themselves, “Oh, that’s just Alan. He’s hyper-sensitive and tends to talk too much, but once you get to know him, he’s a good, honest fellow — and very talented — if he’d only keep his mouth shut.”
It’s more sensitive, more thoughtful, to think before engaging the tongue. I am learning, I think of the way in which I learned language. It was my mostly German speaking mother, and my fatima Aisha, who instilled in me my most early communication skills. Aisha spoke Arabic with me, French with my parents, and Mummy Dearest instilled in me the good German way of organizing, when she taught me to alphabetize my toys in my crib before I was allowed any more.
I need to uproot even more weeds left over from my pre-cognisant training. I continue to pull up weeds and toss aside old thoughts and ideas that no longer serve me.
There is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life is my life now.
I do not need always to speak. It is far wiser to listen.
I know this is the truth.
I speak my word.
I release my thoughts, and let it go.
And so it is.