When I sat down to work on this entry, I was having a very, very difficult time deciding on a topic. I wanted to say something profound, but, frankly, I’m not all that profound even when I am saying things with meaning. Profundity comes to me, not comes from me (or, at least, that’s how I see things, but I’m also my harshest critic). I had this want, this need, to say something Earth shattering that would rock everyone’s world, and I realized that if I tried to do that then any actual usefulness and insight would be lost because it wouldn’t be genuine. I would become what I despise about people like Augusten Burroughs – everything would be phony and forced for the sake of shock or lulz or sympathy.
Then I remember my events today while I was rotting in traffic coming back from taking a Civil Service exam. I want to tell you a little story.
I am a big fan of the alternative country/Americana/singer-songwriter genre. One artist I got into over the last few years is John Doe. His record from 2007, “A Year in the Wilderness,” is a grossly under-appreciated album, and it has a few songs that really pull me in and get to my core. One of those songs I have a variety of attachments to/with, but today listening to the song while sitting in traffic resulted in breaking down into tears.
For those playing the home game, it is no secret that I have been fighting off the urge to have kids until I can get my life in some sort of order. Right now I am living and breathing through Wallace Stevens’ “The Idea of Order at Key West.” (You can find it here: http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Poetry/Stevens/The_Idea_of_Order_at_Key_West.html) I have been fighting off the urge for children for sometime because I know I am just not ready for that responsibility and it would be nothing less than unfair to the children if I could not provide the absolute best case scenario for them. As a male, I am conflicted over whether I want a boy or a girl more. Ultimately, I just want a healthy child and will be happy with that, but if I had to give an answer, I honestly want one of each, but I think I want a daughter more. I know, I know. I’ve heard the horror stories, but I’ve also seen the powers a daughter and father relationship can have, and I want to be able to give my daughter away some day and revel in the father-daughter dance (don’t get me wrong, I want to build things with my son and take him fishing and talk to him about girls and play hockey with him). I have been fighting the urge, but it continues to grow stronger and stronger.
I was listening to the John Doe record and the track “A Little More Time” came on.
Here is the song being sung by John Doe with Cindy Wasserman (the album version features Kathleen Edwards, who I think does a better job and I have an unmitigated love for)
I once put this on a CD (old school, right? I know.) for a girlfriend. I also explained “well, I understand the finer points don’t really apply here, and they actually are kinda creepy if you want them to be read that way…,” but I wanted the bigger point to come across (it did). In the present, though, I was listening to this song and I had a moment, a revelation, if you will, about just how powerful the song was for me and how closely it tied in with my wanting a daughter. I imagined playing this song for her as a baby and telling her about it as she grew older, and then holding onto those memories fondly as she began to resent me in her teen years, and then sharing a moment once we’ve gotten closer again as she became an adult. I considered the power a song like that would have if it were played at an important moment, or if she grew up and had a family of her own and played it.
All those thoughts came rushing in and I was so overwhelmed by the immensity of it all. It washed over me and I was fast reduced to tears. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really, really hope that my sitting in traffic has given me indication of a potential pass-it-on-to-the-kids type of tradition. I hope I can look back on this time in my life and be able to say, with a longing, but somewhat fulfilled, regret that “there was a time…”