autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

A thought of thread

I remember my mother, in the deep of night, as I slept. A brief memory, but dense with the richness of her truth. She leaned over the sofa upon which I was sleeping and caressed my face. It woke me, but only slightly. Through hypnogogic eyes, I murmured, “When I grow up, I want to be beautiful and mole-y, just like you.”

Looking back at that memory, it seems to me that it is flash-frozen; my 2 or 3 year old mind, the numinous, dreamy quality of the memory, all of it encoded and laid down upon grey jelly… the slenderest wrinkle in the time otherwise known as me.

I love that memory because it feels so pure. Even now, long after my mother stopped breathing, that memory stands enshrined in my brain… the penultimate kernel of my truth.

I understand my mother so much more today than I did. It is bittersweet; I see her virtues, her vanities, and her vices. I recognize the tender beauty, the simple truth of her because I have slowly, over decades, peeled away every layer added to her… the layer of her experiences, that of her response to them, the ones created by her as armor, the ones applied by my own, angry, trembling hands as they flung assumption, accusation, and avoidance over miles, and the ones that existed in the nether-sphere of experience that was hers alone – unique, pristine, and unassailable to knowing by any other, even me.

This moment finds my mind slowly parading before me the many examples of parallel between us. In it, I find a flash of insight and realize the fullness of the truth that is karma. Some things, we can shift through diligent effort. Some things we cannot, and must release fully.

My mother did everything she could to try to convince me that she loved me. I never did believe her. Not really, not until here, now, when I watch the history repeat itself in stereo through my thoughts and my reality. When she gave up, I was relieved. I moved on and she did, too. And it wasn’t until her death in 2003 that the truth of my many lies rose to challenge me. And it wasn’t until here, now, waking from a dream in which all of this spooled like cerebral silk that I understood the bigger picture.

This is no unique story; it is as old as humanity and easily as constant. I am certain that, in some collection of APA cited, peer reviewed papers, it rests; never let it be said that I had an original thought. Perhaps I have the ability to set even this bit of regurgitation into something similar enough to human common experience that it can be recognized. One can hope.

The entire history seems to me a pitiful crochet, a doily… delicate loops of effort, yes, but it is the empty space that defines the result… without the emptiness, there is no artistry… the twisting and looping encodes and transmits… the seed is the thing in itself.

So too, we humans. The pockets of space within us are pure fields of unique being, even as the patterns of human behavior, culture, et al hold much in common. We do not see the incremental movement of being over time, it is forever in the blind spot, paradoxically known and unknown… we can only know it in ourselves and only through developing empathy for “the other”.

I recognize myself in my children. Just as my mother recognized me. Just as my daughter will, in the fullness of time. The hook needle cannot weave a single thread but to make a larger fabric, the thread cannot be both doily and hat. The touch of the maker changes what may be into what is but, as with Heisenberg, the act of making limits the outcome.

An unending chain in the most literal of ways; but not one that is impossible to shift. It’s just that humans are limited in their ability to see broadly, and rarely do they choose against their own impatience and convenience. First, because it’s work, but also because it demands that the axiom of self-reference sit quietly in a corner and not interfere.

My mother loved me dearly and as best she knew how. She held a breathless hope that I would be able to be all the things she could never see herself becoming. She held a breathless fear that I would be no more able than she… and the more secret phobia that she may only, ever be able to recreate herself in me.

She gave me up when I was 3, again when I was 13, again when I was 32. She knew her limits and loved me enough to release me when I couldn’t help but move beyond them.

But it is a truth I tell when I say that the act of my departure, so fully, was the one that ensured I repeated her pattern with my own children.

Irony. Oh, irony.

The lessons I might have learned by staying are the great, empty spaces in my own work; like my mother, I recreated the pattern faithfully and missed entirely that the beauty of any piece rests in how uniquely it frames its own emptiness.

You cannot crochet and claim it is embroidery. Just as you cannot plant wheat and expect to harvest corn. I recreated the pattern I could not myself modify; but I modified whenever I could. I couldn’t enough to ensure my own desires, but perhaps enough to assure my children can ensure their own, or their children, or theirs, etc.

It’s not much, I admit, but I take my comfort in the knowledge that “enough” is a thoroughly toxic concept… I did the work laid before me. Others will judge its quality on their own rubric. No one can deny the attempt, or that the work was, in fact, done. That I can say no more than this is my own thought to endure.

The older I get, the more I realize that everything you receive in this life is a gift. Many things you do not receive are gifts, too.

Life itself is a gift and the rest? Well, you decide.