One of my favorite life memories, the good times, was riding around in Big Dave’s truck. He’d light up a joint and drive about 14 mph looking at trees and birds and talking with me. I learned a life lesson about the long view from those drives. Dave would always point out the big, really old trees. He’d say how old they probably were, some around 400 years old. He commented about the Long View. People around here can tend to be short sighted, but this tree, it has seen so many humans come and go, houses built and fall down in neglect. The trees speak to us of time and how it doesn’t matter, things change. Just enjoy where you are today, enjoy the view, be kind and generous to the birds, offer shade and maybe a few nuts to a friend. Make some beautiful music when the wind blows through your leaves.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books about her early life also influenced my understanding of what can happen during this Long View. I loved those stories of how she lived in the woods in a cabin built by her pa. I wanted to live like that, out in nature all the time, receiving everything I needed directly from the earth. When I got older I did the math and realized that she was still alive when my own pa was just a boy. She was an old woman by then, but it put her life in a time frame I was able to grasp. The world had changed immensely in an amount of time that I could measure by two lifetimes. So it was possible! If it changed that much from log cabin to TV’s and cars, then it could change back. The world could return to the woods and maybe someday I can live like my hero. That idea has shaped my entire life.
Now there is a child in my life and I have had to make decisions about things like candy and TV and flying in airplanes. It is necessary for me to be comfortable with my decisions. I refuse to let him eat candy while I feel bad about it. I will not allow him to watch videos on the computer while resenting the whole situation. Peace was made in my mind partly by accepting that many of these things may not be available for his entire life.
One of my favorite stories I tell in my head is about how Mateo will captivate his grandchildren with stories from his own youth, stories about things that can only be imagined because they have disappeared from our culture. I like saying yes to the child and I want to say yes with love and enthusiasm, not guilt and a split heart. I want Mateo to mean what he says and so I must always mean what I say. When I say yes, you can have that, it has to be with a true heart, with a firm decision that I am comfortable with. I don’t think parades with fire trucks and candy tossed out at the children will be happening when Mateo has grandchildren and so I want him to enjoy those now and be a kid now and have fun and then when its gone he will remember and laugh and tell stories to people who can’t even imagine what his life was like.
He also loves to play in water and I love watching him just let the faucet run and run and run. There may not be running water when he’s older so might as well give him space to enjoy life now. And I thankfully let go of the idea that he’s “wasting water”. That’s impossible once you understand the water cycle. We have a high pressure hose in the basement for washing the stainless steel milk equipment. I love to watch him command that thing. He loves to spray and I love that he loves. He is so good at enjoying life and has allowed me to practice letting go and come along side him to remember how to enjoy life.
It feels good to look at Mateo and see a man, a human with his own mind. Those trees taught me the long view and I want to honor this child by treating him with the respect he deserves. It doesn't matter, things are always changing. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy each moment that you have. Decide what you're comfortable with and then do that. Trees decide where to grow and then they grow there, in that spot, never moving, for 400 years. I want to be that sure, that comfortable. So I am.