The cycle of life and death.
A few days ago, I told my two youngest sons about the cycle of life and death. Fintan, 8, listened intently, but didn’t really comment. Tiarnan, 6, however was most responsive.
“Everybody dies, someday...”, I began, looking at Tiarnan. He had made a remark, which I cannot now recall, which prompted me to introduce this subject.
His eyes fixed on me, somewhat intently.
“But, if you have children, Tiarnan, something of you will live on in them. Just like I will live on in you.”
That thought seemed a nice one, to him. He looked to his brother, for confirmation that he, too, thought well of it.
“You, Tiarnan, and you Fintan, are half Mummy and half Daddy...”
They both smiled at this thought.
“You have different halves of Mummy and Daddy, but you both have half of each of us. There are genes in every cell, that tell how to make you – they are like a recipe for making you. You have half of Mummy’s recipe and half of Daddy’s recipe. So, half of us lives on in each of you.”
They were a little awonder at this and shared that wonder with a glance to each other.
“When you grow up, you will have children too,” I said, my gaze encompassing both Tiarnan and Fintan. “And those children will have children too, when they grow up.”
Tiarnan then interrupted my explanation.
“Then they will die, but their children will live on and have children. Then they will die and their children will live on, and have children...and then...they will die and their children will live on and have children...and...”
Then he laughed, unexpectedly. It was a full laugh, a laugh that seemed to express an absurdity he sensed at the core of life. The whole cycle of life and death seemed ridiculous to my six year old son.
Suddenly he stopped.
“I am not going to get married.”, he said, determinedly.
“You will when you grow up.”
“No! I am not going to get married.”, he said more forcefully.
“Why not?”, I said, curious about my little son’s perspective on life.
“I am too shy.”, he confessed, softening.
“You will get less shy as you get older. I was shy as a young boy...but as I grew up, I became less shy, until I wasn’t shy anymore.”
He didn’t seem convinced. He even seemed to shrink in shyness at the thought of his own shyness.
“No. I won’t.”
“Yes, you will. Goodnight.”
I put them to bed and waited until they had fallen to sleep.
As I write of my son’s responses, I wonder, now, at why he said he wouldn’t get married...was it truly the shyness that would, he thought, block that...or was it a sense of the pointlessness of the cycle of life and death: did he think it too absurd to participate in? I wonder, because he seemed to be considering that absurdity when he suddenly stopped and said he wasn’t going to get married. Or perhaps, he had realized that if he didn’t get married, he wouldn’t be participating in that cycle of life and death in the fullest way. In either case, it was an interesting thought.
It is true though. Tiarnan is shy. However, he has many attributes which do best in someone who is not shy. So, he is full of contradictions – with a co-existence of positive attributes that require the absence of shyness, which is present, for full expression. I shall, of course, work on him overcoming his shyness. I shall write of one such attempt soon.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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