Monday, June 18, 2012

Frozen in Flying Time

I keep a picture of myself on my desk.  Now, before you say something like “That’s a big surprise,” let me explain.
It is a black and white 3X5’’ shot of me at the chubby age of ten months. I’m sitting on the dining room table at my grandmother and grandfather’s house, where I lived with my parents for the first few years. I’m looking off to the side, eyes locked on something really interesting -- probably my dad acting like kook to get me to laugh. I’m not laughing -- just focused, in a very round sort of way.
Norman Rockwell: "Trumpet Practice"
I’m wearing a checkered jumpsuit (whatever you call those things -- like overalls for a baby). Two white socks hang off of my feet like they have had a really long day. I’m holding my father’s trumpet -- which astounds me, considering that it was our little family’s prime source of income at the time. Still, I’m being a good boy, holding onto the bell with one hand and pushing the valves with the other. I have those reverse-knuckles seen only in the young and plump.
There is a ball with bunny-ears next to me, but I’m more interested in the trumpet. (Another big surprise.)
Why do I keep this picture on my desk? Well, I sort of check-in with it every morning. I give it a look before the day begins, because, I owe that little kid. I look at him and I consider whether or not I have let him down. He was happy and sincere. He never sinned or transgressed. He laughed and cried when he needed to. He was better than I am.
Every moment from that one with the trumpet until now has been a test; every experience a chance to live up to what that little fellow deserves. So, I look at him and I consider what potential he had and I ask myself if I have done all I could have with it. The answer is always no. But, still, he's there on my desk each morning, frozen in flying time and as close to perfect as I'll ever be.


  1. Such a lovely post you’ve written. Your thoughts brought to mind a quotation by Madeleine L'Engle. Do you know it?

    She wrote: “I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child.”

    Your little boy lives within you. Continue to honor him.

    1. Thanks for reading and for the kind words, Elsa Louise. I had never seen the L'Engle quotation, but I like it -- I like the idea it evokes of collecting selves over time; that we are not so much changing creatures as a series of books, in different revisions, on the shelf. Really cool. Again, thanks for stopping by!