Tough to know where to start with this since words are the only medium I have for expressing myself here.
Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep at night, I can sense or feel or hear in my head a piece of writing. I think about all the different things I’d want to say in the next five to eight hundred words. I can kind of see where it’s all going to work out and tie together. I’ll only know a few sentences or thoughts, but I get this overview or sorts. Since I’m not the type of person to turn on the light to write something down, (I’m sure better writers would say I should) I just let it all swirl around up there and trust that when I finally get the time to deposit my thoughts, they’ll still mostly be there. For some reason I wanted to say all that first. Now….
A couple months ago, Joshua starting to use a lot of words, and was doing so more and more regularly. Mostly nouns for labeling things: cow, truck, hat, hammer, you get the idea. I knew that he was on the verge of everything really falling into place language-wise. My view is that language is learned in bits and pieces, but also in larger chunks where things just “click.” (Yes, “click” is the scientific term.) I knew he was on the precipice of understanding that everything has a word/name attached to it and that these words/names come out of our mouths and have meaning and by God, I get it: “Car, more, yes, banana, dog, green, slide, egg, help, hurt, door, avocado.” I could sense all of this right around the corner.
This occurred to me as I was driving home with him and I peered in the rear view mirror at him (distracted, I know) and he just looked so happy! He was holding his car/truck/train in his hand and joyfully being a little passenger. I felt an overwhelming wave of melancholy accompanied by a peaceful connection with him, and a deep knowledge that he is merely a traveling soul, just like me. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked back at him and we just were. I suddenly realized that there had, only moments before, been no thoughts in my head. No clutter, no worry, no movement, no WORDS. OH MY GOD! Soon Joshua’s mind would be overrun with words. Names, labels, limits—what clunky, inescapable, necessary little evils they are!
I reached for the empty, sacred-feeling place where I had just been. But that sensation; bliss, waking dream, inner peace, whatever you want to call it, had slipped away. Clinging never works in these situations. Sigh. But I wondered if it had vanished for Josh as well? His mind, I assumed, was only swirling with, what, a couple dozen words? Maybe he was blissed-out and feeling interconnected with God/The Universe all the time because of his lack of vocabulary. I pondered this for the next few days until I was visited by some fairy godmothers in the form of books.
Do you know what I mean by this? Sometimes books appear at exactly the right time to guide me to where I’m going. They echo a lesson I’m in the middle of learning, or speak directly to a problem I’m working through. In this case, I read two books in a row that shed light on the thoughts I’d had about Josh and his semi-word-filled brain.
The first book I read was A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. Now what I find interesting, and maybe even more interesting than the content of the book, is the timing of my reading of the book. This happens to me a lot. I had seen the Oprah show where she discussed this book, I had been interested, but had not run out and gotten the book to read. Only about a year later when someone had it on their Top Books list on Facebook did I order a copy from Amazon. And then, it sat around my house for a while until I finally picked it up shortly after this “peak” experience I had while driving with Josh. One of the main points that I took from the book is that we all think too much. I was like, “Yes! That’s what I was just thinking!” Oh, the irony! There were other excellent ideas in the book and if I hadn’t lent my copy to my mom I’d try to name another, but this thing about not thinking and this bringing peace, well, that one stuck with me.
Since my fairy-bookmothers weren’t through with me yet, I happened upon another book I had lying around the house (it too had been suggested by a friend and then purchased months later…). I would have had NO WAY to think that this book: My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, would be in any way related to the Tolle book. But it was like the other side of its coin. This book about a neuroanatomist (one who studies the brain’s structures and functions) who experienced a stroke at age 37 and recovered to write about it is: A) an amazing read with brilliant insight into our humanity, and B) offers the scientific explanation for why we feel peaceful when we don’t think.
Weird, huh? It’s a reality like this that really helps me to trust life.
To sum up: I highly recommend both books and I’ve decided to still encourage Josh to talk. Not that I could stop him, but I’m trying to remember to insert some “just being” time with him as well. It’s easy to overload a toddler with information once they understand it all, since it’s just so exciting. But ultimately, I know I benefit from trying to have a more “balanced brain,” as Dr. Taylor would call it, and I know that he certainly will too.