Sunday, September 23, 2007

O that I were and Angel

The round extensions of my body rolling over matted leaves, rocks, and mud. Beds of colored leaves on the trail, an exploding red maple in front of me. The Green Pond trail just below Snowbasin, a mere 25 minutes from my home, transports me to another world. From here clich├ęs are my only tools: amazing, brilliant, awe-inspiring, enormous, epiphanies… Or I could try Thoreau: “I wanted to live deep and suck the marrow of life” and “to be awake is to be alive” and “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life.” And I did want all of these, wanted to lie down in the earth and roll around in her, taking in the smell of leaves and trees and dirt.

I recognize the ironies—the $2000 full suspension mt bike between my legs and the manicured trails—yet can’t deny the connection. I pop out into a tree cleared ski run—there’s a deer looking up at me. I stop, watch, she turns part way and crosses the ski run; I continue my traverse following along with the deer until we both enter the woods on the other side.

But this doesn't capture it, too staged, too perfect and this ain't no night at the theatre. Maybe this:

After ascending Lost Chance and reconnecting with Needles, I begin the descent, a descent many have paid for by way of the gondola, but in true Thoreauvian manner I climb each one hundred feet of elevation with my own strained muscle and pounding hearts and lungs, just as he found each board and nail. And then I plunge down and across, back up short stints, right pedal down back brake engaged slight S-turn left. On the straightaway gaining speed mud flips up on my legs, face, and back, stinging like the branches hitting my hands and arms. GOD I’M IN LOVE with this, the MOUNTAIN, the recklessness, the ABANDON, the air, the SOUND and ease of my rolling body over sharp rocks and roots.

Like Joseph’s powerful character, Alma, in the Book of Mormon, who declares “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” I too want to shake this mountain with my joy, calling to repentance my own soul and the souls of so many lifeless corpses, hands at 10 and 2, navigating through the lanes of I-15: “Awake my sons and daughters, partake of this bounteous offering from GOD, the leaves and everything in it, the mud and earth, the deer and birds. Behold this is ME, this is GOD.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

A six year old under the bed counting feet

My youngest son is right now under the bed in my office. Since starting the 1st grade he has taken to hiding out under there playing his Nintendo and spying on our feet as we walk by. I think the close space gives him security during this rough time—the other day he jumped up on my lap, got his face right close to mine with tears in his eyes, “I want to be with my mom and dad more.”

It’s been a difficult transition to full-time student. I’m not sure why I’m surprised that he is struggling—duh!, he’s been ripped away from the arms of his parents, set down with 30 other kids and some strange woman. I have to say the whole schooling thing we do is a bit odd if you really think about. I mean why do we send them away for 7 hrs a day to sit in a room learning stuff they forget over the summer? Mostly, I think, so they don’t drive us crazy. All that talk about learning, reading levels, and incremental learning is bullshit. Have you ever helped out in a first grade class? Talk about inefficient: some kids reading Harry Potter, others struggling over “the”; lots of noise and confusion, lots of songs and cupcakes.

I guess all an all it’s not as rigorous as say the manhood training described in Roots (our current bk club book): stealing the kids away at night, rumors of getting your “foto” cut off, permanent exhile from your mother's home, etc. But in the end maybe both events are basically the same. The most important thing about going off to school is the way it functions as a rite of passage, a separation from mother and father on the journey to adulthood and that’s it, nada mas.

The details of what we do in all kinds of situations (evaluating an essay, punching a time card, learning the times tables, giving a presentation) are not at all important. The only thing we carry with us is the ritual, the act, the fact that we did act. Of course one could then say why have kids learn all this stuff, why not do something else or nothing at all? But we must do something and we must do something with faith that it matters.

It seems to me that life is one faith sponsored act after another, that there might be very little real difference between the devout Muslim or Mormon and the skeptic atheist English prof. who religiously marks off each assignments, takes role, and evaluates carefully each piece of writing as if it all really mattered.

May that marvelous God in Heaven be with little Andrew as he sits alone in class today, missing hugs from his mom and bike rides with his dad.