Unreal Nature

November 23, 2018

That Is All

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… We can hardly blame ourselves for feeling that it isn’t enough.

This is from ‘The Vanishing Act’ by Dan Jacobson:

We expect our children’s childhood to pass as slowly as we remember our own to have done. And so it does — to them. To them a week or a month or a year can appear ocean-like in its expanses of sameness or changeableness. To us, however, to the parents we have become, the childhood of our children passes as swiftly as everything else in adult years. From moment to moment, we feel, we are left vainly grasping after people who are no longer there. They have vanished even while we were looking at them.

[line break added] How can we recall the six-week-old infant when he has been shouldered out of his own life and out of our minds by someone of the same name and with something of the same features who is now six months old; and how can we recall the six-month-old infant when another infant aged two years or three years or five years has taken his place? And the fifteen-year-old who replaces that five-year-old will in turn be swiftly replaced by an adult with whom our relationship is bound to be quite different from the other, provisional relationships we had before with all his or her other, provisional selves.

… Of our children, of our children’s younger selves, virtually nothing remains. When we try to think of them as they once were (perhaps a few months ago) we have to be content, all too often, with unexpected, unanchored fragments. A forgotten item of clothing seen by chance in a drawer, for example, will perhaps produce not so much a visual image as some sort of tactile reawakening within the self, a “feel” of having handled the small body which the garment once covered.

[line break added] Revisiting, on our own, a place we have been to with our children, we may find them suddenly revisiting us: not as individuals who were then of this height or whose hair was cut in that way, but as urgent presences merely, beings whose hands were in our own or slipping away from them, whose voices were raised or silent.

[line break added] What these presences also bring back is not so much a recollection of our emotions as of theirs: their eagerness, their curiosity, imperious hungers or uncurtailable rages, their collapses into sleepiness or indifference. Only in that context can we recall the sensation, private to us, unknown to them, of having been in charge, of having been under pressure, of having once been parents.

That is all. We can hardly blame ourselves for feeling that it isn’t enough.

-Julie

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