Today is my Ma’s birthday. She’s at work right now, so I can’t call her to say “Happy Birthday, Ma” or sing the Birthday Song Redux that’s taking the nation by storm, even though Ella’s asleep now and I have a minute or so to catch my breath and reflect on something other than sippy cups and teething.
Ma works at a dentist office. She’s pretty much worked there for thirty years (maybe more. I lose count). She does the books, deals with the insurance, billing, and so on and is, in general, the office manager royale. She’s very good at what she does. (If I ever tried to manage a dentist office – not that anyone would let me - I’d sink it within the first week of the fiscal year.)
Some times, throughout the day, I’ll be in the middle of my sippy cup and wild fatherly, writerly where’s-all-this-headed-oh-wait-I-forgot-I-don’t-care-anymore life and BOOM I’ll think, “I wonder what my Ma’s doing right now.” Usually, this happens in the middle of the day and so I immediately think, “She’s workin’” and start to have visions of my Ma multitasking, dealing with an irate patient, filing tedious forms, or trying to convince an insurance company minion of something obvious. But then for some reason I think of all her internal organs working together in more or less perfect, clockwork symmetry and time. Rhythm of blood, pulse of respiration, quiet marrow at the core of things.
Our jobs, our roles, our hang-ups and obsessions – they’re real enough. They exist, I mean. But it’s all so interdependent on social or personal illusions, fads, fashions, cultural contexts, layers of meaning, etc. And I dig intersubjectivity, but the real truth of the matter is that we’re delicate organisms imbued with a sophisticated, orderly, expert arrangement of interlocking physical functions, all the way from the sub-molecular level up to the gross manifestation of an ear, say, or an eye. Basically, we lucked out just to be here is how I feel. And if you want to say, we’re blessed, I’ll go along with that too. We’re blessed homo sapiens scrounging around in the Kali Yuga, looking for something Real.
And so anyway, it’s liberating for me to remember the miracle of my Ma in her office. Because that helps me deal with the fact that being separate and far away from somebody you love is a painful fact of life. Can’t erase miles, you know? Can’t compress the whole world into one easily navigable borough at the slightest pang of longing. And who knows? As far-out and unlikely and otherworldly as life is on this planet, maybe our thoughts really are powerful. Maybe homo sapiens is magical.
So often what I’ll do is imagine photon rays of extravagant props and love extending up from my shoulderblades, ascending, and riding the airwaves from where I’m at to where she’s at, from my heart to hers, from my gut to hers, nothing but marrow-deep vibrations of connected, cool, serenity and warm vibes. That way I don’t feel so far away, and that way I can stay connected to her. Cause, you know, she’s my Ma. I do this same type of thing with my friends, too. They never know it, though. I like to think it helps. So bear that it mind. Next time you feel like an existential window just opened up to let in a little fresh air – maybe it’s ‘cause we’re connecting…out across the plains.