Why this?

The occasional piece of my own and a generous helping of others' creations I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Something Very Big

I once witnessed this ecstatic process in a small human creature. I was at the beach, walking along the water's edge when a young child ran on very unsteady legs into the water. It was the infant's intensity that caught my attention. I looked for the mother. She was some distance away and seemed comfortable enough about her child's safety not to interfere with what was happening.

The child, a boy with wet sagging diapers, ran into the water with that half-weaving, half-stumbling motion of infants who have just learned to walk. I first thought he would fall, and then that he would not stop until he was in over his head. But this child knew when he was in deep enough. 

Seeing him with the Long Island Sound lapping against his chubby thighs, I realized that from his perspective these small waves were giants. He was with something VERY BIG.

His small body was intense with concentration. He was thrumming like an instrument, standing there in the water. Then he turned and, still deep in the experience, walked unsteadily out of the water and over the thin strip of pebbles at the water's edge. Then he made a kind of circle and went right back into the water up to his thighs for another experience of sea. He did this perhaps seven or eight times, as if verifying what this wet, cold living thing called water was to him.

I could feel the high excitement of his experience even yards away from him. Finally, fully satisfied, he stood in his wet diapers and began an unintelligible but eloquent speech to the water, to the gulls, to the sand, to the world. This baby was obviously not yet speaking with words, but he was certainly speaking with his heart. The sound was beautiful. He was tell-singing his experience with arms outflung. It was a deep burble--a joyful noise to the Lord!

Only after naming his experience in his own personal language did he notice me noticing him.

A shy look came over his face, and he did a fast exit out of the water, over the pebble strip--and then around back into the water, finishing with his speech gurgled at the top of his voice. The smile on his face and the sidelong look he gave me told me that he knew we both knew what all this felt like, including the joys of repetition. We were in this together!

--Gunilla Norris

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