Adult Babies: Navigating Fear
Updated: Mar 4
Throughout my life, as is true with all of us, I’ve experienced a never-ending series of moments that have shaped who I am. Lessons inside and upon lessons. I’ve been able to feel myself consciously growing each day, the shadow of yesterday and the memory of tomorrow guiding me as I reflect on my indiscretions and contemplate my dreams.
In this specific and unique time in my life, I’ve found myself at a loss for those reflective moments, barely able to grasp the beauty of the day like hands in clouds of golden light wafting steadily by me. The energy feels so real, tangible almost, and I woke up today with my family beside me in the crisp, cool air of the morning after a night of rain, seeing with clarity the realization that in my current inability to reflect, in spite of the lack of organization due to this new flame that I am destined to tend, I am creating the most beautiful memories of my life. I see in full circle what my father must have felt looking into his smiling child’s eyes. I contemplate the beauty of right now more than I ever have before.
I think about growing up, and how it is an illusion.
To ‘grow up’ is a choice we make, though an unnecessary one. It is confused from the start, as in fact, nobody ever really ‘grows up’. I know this as I watch my one year old son scoot his way around the floor and through the doors, and I note the undeniable similarities to our own human attempts at navigating a world that makes its own rules which we are bound to follow. We ‘adults’ trip over ourselves, spit out sounds that we wish and think to mean more than they do, or the opposite, we are unconscious of how meaningful our words actually are. We get stuck and stub our toes and bump our heads, growing and learning with every step until we decide (society decides) it’s time to be an ‘adult’, at which time we are to surrender all that which makes us look vulnerable.
No longer a child, we must confront the world fearlessly, or so it seems. Fear is not only inevitable, it is a joy. It is what gives life meaning. It makes us aware of what makes life worth living. We must not ignore our fear, but embrace it, as this boy of only one does so well. He is just trying to communicate, like all of us, doing exactly what he feels, but without any apparent fear of failure. An open heart and mind. We could learn much more from babies than we could teach them, if only they weren't such better learners than we are.
He knows where his tongue is. This is relatively new. We’ll ask him a question and his tongue comes out, like it’s always the answer we’re looking for. He’s been undoubtedly saying “Ball” for a week or two. His first real word, far as I’m concerned. Yesterday he said it at least a hundred times. Maybe two. This morning we were reading a book and he said it and put his finger right on it. I’ll catch a “D” around a dog or a door here and there, but he’ll call out “BAH” when I didn’t even see the thing sitting there. He’ll be beaming at it sure enough.
I get frustrated sometimes, his cries penetrate a new part of my brain that's never been touched through my eardrums like that. I want to write about everything as a letter to my future self reminding me of all this beauty, but sometimes it's weeks before I get back to my place behind the keyboard. Though when I finally make it back here it's always worth it, because all along I was making memories. Any frustration that I can have only reminds me of how much we are the same, he and I, learning to turn the bad into the good, finding grace, to navigate our fear so we might turn it into love of equal proportion.