Saturday, October 19, 2013

growing up

Anyone who has had children can tell you: The little jars of pureed food that dribble half down the child's throat and half down its chin is pretty revolting stuff. My favorite one to hate was the spinach ...
all green and gooey from the get-go ... resembling in its nourishing ick nothing so much as the stuff that would later exit the child at the other end. To this day I keep waiting for the sci-fi movie in which the green slime in its small bottle takes on a life of its own and the horrified mother or father wails, "It's alive! It's al-i-i-i-i-ve!"

Of course, this world of pureed ick is entirely sensible: The kid has no teeth and needs to start living on something other than mother's milk. So there are pears and peaches and spinach and carrots and who knows what all else ... all of it reduced to something that will dribble mercilessly onto bib and floor and parental attire. And it pays to be aware that in this pureed world a burp has the capacity to turn volcanic, spewing forth what had been so carefully spooned in.

Mind you, none of it tastes bad and it is nourishing for the child, but the texture and consistency of these little bottles of MiracleGro always reminded me of what might happen if you tried to gut a slug.

I guess what brought this to mind was that yesterday a friend sent along a book about Zen Buddhism and asked me to blurb it -- write some sort of review that he could then append to the Internet. Because a friend was asking, I said I would. And then I tried ... and was swept back into the world of pureed spinach.

I tried.

I could see from the first few pages that the author knew how to write (always a plus) and that the book would probably be pretty good, pretty nourishing, pretty sensible. But the only analogy I could think of as I plowed forward was to imagine that someone had asked me to read the Manhattan phone directory.

It was heavy and somehow lifeless in my mind. Its nourishment didn't convince me, although I could imagine it might nourish others. It was a chore and at my age, I pick my chores with more care than once. I didn't want to fail the friend to whom I had made a promise, but very quickly I realized that failure was preferable to the chore itself: "It'll be good for you" was just not convincing.

I tried ... and failed. And from the moment I consented to fail, I felt a lightness of being in some small corner of my mind. I made my confession to my friend, who knew precisely what I was talking about since he didn't want to review the book either. Both of us had eaten our spinach in times gone by. We had been nourished. We had cared about the realm of Zen Buddhism and still, to some degree, did. But that was then and this was now. Reading tales about blue sky when one look out the window would fill the bill ...

Let someone else eat pureed spinach.

Growing up is no longer my objective.

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