Monday, February 27, 2006

The List

He's entering adolescence. He'll have my coloring- bright blue eyes and hair that is now blonde but will darken as he ages and he'll have his mother's wide-set eyes. He stutters a bit because he thinks so much faster than he talks, but that will change as he learns the mysteries and power of listening and observing. Wrestling with him it seems likely that he also inherited my slightly freakish bone and muscle density.

We talk a lot, more now that he is on the edge of manhood and I understand him better than I did the quiet and artistic child he was such a short time ago.

We talk about growing and changing and he understands that his purpose now is to discover who he is... he understands that consciously far better than I did until I was a decade older. Discovery isn't enough, though. I tell him also to step up and decide who he will be. Decide, choose. Out of all the possibilities, son, what feels most true?

He's been playing D&D a lot. After a little thought he said he wanted to be a Ranger, but an urban one.

Make a list, son, of all the skills you will need to be that person.

He did and the list is a wonder: he wants to know about the behavior and anatomy of people and animals; to learn to survive and hunt and fight; to track and stalk and many, many other things. To travel, to observe. To heal.

It seems like a child's list, maybe: "I want to be Robin Hood when I grow up, Daddy." It is not. Whatever he becomes- artist, veterinarian, accountant, cop- he will learn these things and he will learn to see and to listen- to use the quiet magic of a compassionate heart backed up with the mighty arm of a warrior. He will see the patterns of behaviors and social nets and not give offense (by accident) in the most exotic of cultures- from Romany to Maori to wolf and shark. He will learn to care, not just to say the words and sympathize but to protect and to heal and to provide food and water and shelter.

As he masters these skills he will be able to stand alone- there can be no freedom if you must depend on others for survival- and he will be able to choose not to, to surround himself with people of courage and skill.

I'm very proud and now it is my part to give him a good head start on the skills he has listed, to show him what I know of people and animals, tracks, healing, fighting, stalking, travel....

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