A Warm Updraft

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Salmon struggle upstream to spawn and die. The male praying mantis loses his head for sex. Little grey spiders, like Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, spin their egg sacs with their last strength. Throughout nature, giving life to the next generation is, it seems, worth dying for.

For millennia humans lived no longer than the time it took to have children and raise them to an age at which they could survive on their own. Lately, we have been living longer, long past the time our kids go off on their own. Long past the time that, evolutionarily speaking, we are necessary.

So here I am, watching my children from afar, loving them from afar, if from such a distance what I feel can be called love, since for me love lives in the things I do for those I care for.

The years after your children are grown are unnatural years, years without a mortal purpose. Loving someone so much you would die for them is a little like actually dying. Everything else seems trivial. I imagine that's the way soldiers returning from combat feel. In harm's way they would have died for their buddies, but now they wander a tranquil landscape that is as deadly to their souls as the war zone was to their bodies.

You can't always help how you feel. The rush of lust and sex. The spike of fear for a child in danger, the excruciating relief when the danger passes. The numbness of isolation. E.B. White gave us a happy ending, but then Charlotte didn't have to sit home alone wondering whether her children had blown into a pond. I suppose he meant to give us more too: an illumination of the dreadful beauty of passages; a tender touch to brush aside the tears of loneliness; a warm updraft with a promise of new beginnings.


With a Perspective, I'm Mac Clayton.