Saturday, December 17, 2011
Once again I think of Stanley Kunitz's line "I am not done with my changes" [see sidebar] which he wrote when he was about my age. Indeed he kept changing his poetry and personal life right into his 100th year. Of course, whether I might look forward to such a long stretch of years remains to be seen, but certainly I know what he was talking about.
Not so very many people have the privilege of being great-grandparents. Standing at the head of such a line of descent is a thought provoking experience. The photo above is my granddaughter with 19 month old Finn an his new little brother, Cole, who was born Wednesday night - just a couple of days past his father's birthday and a few hours ahead of Beethoven's birthday. Seems auspicious to me! At this point I do not have a large role to play in these babies' lives. Finn knows me, of course, knows where I live when he passes, know what play things he will fine at my house. What more would one expect such a little boy to know?
Both babies have four living great-grandparents, I hope we will all survive long enough for them to get to know us and even remember us when they are older. Given a world in which the majority of people do not live so long, a world in which, in fact, it is predicted the life expectancy will decrease [because of both environmental degradation and a population squeeze for future resource] this is an awesome wish and even more awesome that it could come true since we all are, so far as we know, healthy 70-somethings.
Some people who worry about the environmental problems write or speak of fearing what today's children will face as they grow up. I share many of those concerns. I am especially concerned about the constancy of war -- some of it seems arbitrary. Yet I am also aware of increases in movements toward personal peace and deeper awareness that something must be done to change the course the alarmists chart for this century. To get into these considerations is to wade into a great thorny tangle -- the "dark wood" of poetry. I am aware of it but also aware that we must each live as best we can, that what our great-grand children will experience is mostly beyond any power an individual has. So we welcome the spontaneous laughter of the little ones and soothe their crying and try to do the same for all those we meet of whatever age.