I could never forget the moment–Christmas 2012, just four days after the apocalypse, sitting in my childhood room in New Jersey and talking on Skype to my then fiancee who was in Belgium. “I have another gift I forgot to give you,” she said, and reached to her right. She picked up a postcard that said “Merry Christmas,” from an angel on the front, and with tears in her eyes and a bit of nervousness she turned it around. “We’re pregnant!” with many stars and hearts.
“Oh my God!” I said, and began to cry as well, and we spent the next brief and precious little bit of time loving each other wordlessly.
That moment I can’t possibly forget happened as I cognized what the card said, but itself was something that happened outside of time. I was different. However fragile and preliminary, I was a father. Bathed in that love, enjoying my family and our yearly Christmasing, for the rest of that day life made sense.
“You know what, it’s not your life. It’s life. Life is bigger than you. If you can imagine that. Life isn’t something that you possess; it’s something that you take part in, and you witness.” I remember this quote from an episode of Louie, recognized it as something I was coming to apprehend at the time I saw it, knew it on some level to be a deep truth but only had it flash through me that morning.
Oh. I am life. I am life, and I’m here to serve and support life. [end communication]
This has worked itself through me the last nine months, and the last three days since the birth of our healthy daughter Lucia have been three of the most wonderful days of my life as I have have spent literally every waking hour up until now cooking delicious and nutritious food for my wife and myself, cleaning up our house, doing laundry, changing diapers, bonding with the little source of awe that is our baby, and falling asleep exhausted, heart love full of the contentment of a day well lived and fully embraced (only to be woken up in the middle of the night with more to do somehow as I trip over myself in the dark stupor).
But this really wasn’t much of a surprise to me.
What has been a surprise to me is that I see my daughter in literally everybody I come into contact with. So obvious, so ordinary: every person has a mother and a father! Every person has been a beautiful little infant waving their arms and legs around with absolutely no sense of what the hell is going on. Every person has their place in this great lineage of (human) life.
In a moment I’d found my place in life, carrying our humanness, primateness, mammalness, animalness, lifeness, forward one more tiny little step.
Ah! How hard I had searched for it!
And the day before I was just reading this piece on Millenials, which gives a pretty good overview of some of the internal dynamics of my (American, at least) generation, and some of the cultural factors behind our narcissism. While I am also very much in resonance with the commenters that point out that we’ve gotten a pretty raw deal compared with the baby boomers (who, for instance, could find a good-paying blue collar job to support an entire family of four and live in the suburbs, something totally impossible now even with a decent white-collar job), there is much in the post that stings, and that I recognize in and as my own suffering.
My name is Andrew, and I am a “special protagonist.”
And having a daughter makes the narcissism inherent in such a way of being in the world blatantly obvious. The world does not owe me a damn thing. I want to live in a beautiful and fair world, a world where it is culturally obvious and assumed and structurally overdetermined that what is best for you and I and all in the long run is exactly the same thing.
Perhaps all I realize now is that I have to work for that, that that work is a wonderful thing, and that that kind of work is inherently joyful. Or I realize that I don’t have to be different, or worthy, to express that way of being, even in an imperfect world. I have a place, no matter where I am, and I always did and do. Things I’ve always known, and never grokked.
I want my daughter to feel loved, to appreciate herself, to cherish her life and others’. I want to celebrate her uniqueness, and I want her to nourish her own. That, I think, is a far different thing than “specialness.” Specialness assumes some kind of separateness, some kind of ‘better than,’ ‘exempt from.’ There’s a need with specialness to differentiate, to push off and away from. I do not think we will be able to face the issues we must now as a human family if we do not appreciate our uniqueness and let our specialness collapse into sand like the unicorn mirage it was.
A little artifact of life coming into alignment with Being offered in service.
And I, where I am not Andrew Venezia learning ways of being but am only, I be myself life upon itself, iterating such again every moment to moment as bubbles grow from bubbles blown into milk with a straw, I expand again and collapse, and expand and collapse, eating this whole everything I am to emerge bright and new and yet unseen, surprising especially and only myself.
And back on Earth, we are in this together, and there’s no escaping that.
We’re in this together, and it is beautiful and poignant beyond words, where there is only love, thanks, and service.