Sunday, April 26, 2009

Generations on the Move

another sunday, quiet sunday, at home amidst the garden...

downloading music, watering bamboo, homework with leah, mind traveling

reflections, i guess...

we had a lovely evening last night at karma & pia's w/ dale & christopher. old friends (like 'bookends'...) sharing their lives, their thoughts, their experiences, their understandings, their confusions. their efforts to find the balance that is so critical to fully and joyfully participating in the sufferings of the world (as dear departed robin used to say...).

there's a common theme of the place we find ourselves in life's immense journey. we are at a new juncture that was always ahead of us, waiting for us, even in our uncertainties, escapades and constant journey; always lingering around a curve, over a false summit, a patient knight sitting at the 'chautara' (nepali resting place), smoking a bidi, waiting for our meandering lives to catch up with this sense of the eternal return.

such is sense of this middle passage. this still point between our role as parents to our children and children to our parents.

a point in life that we all reac in our 40s or 50s, when we see that our children have grown beyond our wildest dreams to near-adults, independent in certain ways, confident as we always hoped, moving to the next glorious stage of their lives, while we see our parents age quickly now, many stepping across the gateless gate, beyond us (for the moment).

this is the essence of this middle passage as we momentarily hold the arc of the parabola: observing our children climbing up mt. analogue, where we feel those forceful, evocative breezes in our hair, the pinnacle of our life's fleeting achievement.

while we see our mothers and fathers start slip down the ridge back into the earth. not like daedalus falling from having reached too far, beyond his human form -- but fully human, all too human, bent from the burdens of a good but demanding life, borne back to the depth of the soil from which we, in some mysterious way, emanate

('boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past', FSF)

yes, as i said to karma, 'not so long ago all of our children were here w/ us in kathmandu. next year most of them will be in america. and for years to come...' already we begin to plan vacations together in america, this american boy with his nepali wife and their tibetan and danish friends. such is the power of life. taking us beyond our wildest dreams. as our big ships are turned by the tugboats that have become our own children.

i say to myself, 'joshua is at georgetown in washington, dc. this weekend' i hear myself say it and feel it echo around my thoughts, like swirling a glass of chablis to observe the color and aerate before tasting. i hear my mind conduct the same mental exercise about the life of my beloved son. 'yes, joshua is in washington, dc.' it sounds so strange, yet soon to be so true for, possibly, the next four years...

most importantly, of course, is how happy josh sounded this morning when i skyped with him while he was meandering around georgetown with friends staying up all night for his 3:30 am ride to the airport to return to NMH.

'dad, i love this place. it's perfect for me. i can't imagine being anywhere else. and, imagine, i almost didn't apply! everyone seems happy here. the students really love this place. they all seem to have opinions and ideas and seem so bright.'

can a parent ask for more? especially when you've bridged more than a few cultures, continents and countries while finding one's own life.

after all, scratch the surface for this expatriate community and you'll find a slew of adults worried how their children will fit back into a world that we've shattered. cross-culture isn't just a challenge for the adults who find themselves in multi-cultured marriages. it's a whole brave new world for our children. and, having carried them so far away, opening the world to them like an oyster, how do they find their way 'home'.

home? home. home!

as paul simon sang,

'one and one-half wandering jews free to wander wherever they chose are traveling together in the sango de cristo, the blood of christ, mountains on the last leg of a journey they started along time ago. the arc of a love affair... hearts and bones...'

so, in this middle passage (which as a friend reminded me goes on for quite a long time...), we guide, observe and cherish our children as they grow wings, self-confidence and the character to create their own meaningful worlds within worlds...

while, as the conversation shifts, we ask now about each others' parents. their frailty, their marriages, their health, their independence, our love. our longing...

as we feel the tides shift and no longer do we worry as keenly about our own children, but observe our own parents become those elderly children, needing our love, our reassurance, our affection, our support...

'how are they?' 'are they alone?' 'do they need us?' 'when are you going back?' 'are we too far away?'

these are the questions we share and swirl in our thoughts as we sit late with the lights of the city below us...

yes, the middle way, the middle passage,

this immense journey...

hearts and bones.

like frail birds on a wire

the arc of our inner lives

moving along the queue

no longer equidistant between generations

but soon to have our bare heads

touching the open sky

with younger generations coming up

behind us

none ahead

any longer.

for we have buried the best

and love the rest...

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