Four years ago today, I met this little monkey for the first time.
Some days I can’t believe my luck.
I was watching a documentary on The Buddha the other night, and G was snuggled in beside me. At a crucial point, said the narrator, the protected prince Siddhartha discovered some truths: There is aging, there is illness, there is death. These truths rocked the young prince's world.
G raised his head. “Not everybody dies!” he said.
Me: “Yes, they do. Everything and everyone dies one day.”
G stopped and thought for a while. “Everything is what it is,” he said. “Everything is everything,” he nodded. “Everything is everything!”
Kids say stuff like this. They really do.
Later in the doc, the Buddha-to-be witnesses the birth of his young son and names him, essentially, ‘fetter’ or ball-and-chain. He won’t even hold him. He’s so afraid of getting attached and compromising his spiritual journey, he ups and leaves.
I considered his departure for a while as I nuzzled Gabriel’s sweet head. Having G. has grounded me, offering me moments of transcendence while forcing me to inhabit the present moment. With him in my life, I am more moral, more compassionate. A considerable journey has already taken place while staying put.
That night I started reading “Through the Children’s Gate”, by Adam Gopnik. By coincidence, he addressed that very thing in the first chapter.
“We delight in children because they keep the seven notes of enlightenment as the Buddha noted them. Keep them? They sing them, they are them: energy, joy, concentration, attentiveness, mindfulness, curiosity, equanimity….
“Detachment too. They are detached from us in ways we only know after; they study us exactly as monks contemplate the world, to free themselves from needing us. Their ultimate enlightenment lies in that emancipation.”
He will always be the world to us. But for now, and for a sweet, short time after this, we are complete worlds to him. And what a gift it is. Everything is what it is.