While I'm not a huge fan of children's private moments being posted for the world to see, I do love this video of a little girl asserting her desire--and her ability--to do things for herself. And of her father making room for her to do just that.
"Actual conversations with my 2 year old daughter, as re-enacted by me and another full-grown man."
You may have seen this already--it gets at the existential weirdness of talking with young children--especially when you forget that they're people, and they're working hard to remind you.
Just as there are poems beloved by people in certain places, so it seems that there are poems beloved by people in certain professions. Therapists and teachers love this one by Leonard Cohen, the chorus of the song Anthem, with its lovely dedication to wabi-sabi and the broken beauty of each of us:
ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in
The name of this place is so evocative for me. I think we must all have our own museum of childhood, where broken and beloved toys abide, in rooms full of shadows and beams of might.
This is the second video of baby Liv moving at her own pace, feeling her way in the world.
I begin this exploration of words for emotions with an imaginary word: vellichor.
There are feelings for which we have no words, feelings for which we borrow words from other languages that offer up the right shape and texture in the mouth of what we know to be true inside of us--and now, increasingly, words invented for the purpose of defining more closely our emotions in specific settings. Vellichor is one such word.
vellichor: n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
A word of longing and regret, couched in a specific context, endlessly repeating.
This beautiful video of a baby learning how to roll over is a wonderful example of what trusting organic development looks like--for our babies and for ourselves.
Attachment theory asserts that it is in the context of relationship that we find ourselves. Through relationship with another, we come to shape our own basic understandings about the world, the way it works, and our place in it. If our primary attachment figure is able to be available, to be sensitive to our needs, and to be empathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that other people are dependable, and that we ourselves are worthy of attention. If, on the other hand, our primary attachment is unavailable, inconsistently available, insensitive, uncurious, or unempathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that others are not dependable--that we can't rely on them to help us when we need help--and that that is true because we are not worthy of their attention, that there is something deeply wrong with us.
And in infancy, attachment behaviors--crying, calling, crawling towards--are triggered by fear. Attachment and emotion are bound together from the very beginning. When we feel frightened, or tired, or ill, we look to those to whom we are most attached. So this is the place where attachment theory opens into theories of emotion: are emotions universally experienced and expressed? Are there cultural differences around the experience and/or expression of emotion? What are emotions for?
In the coming months, I want to explore specific emotions, familiar and unfamiliar, and perhaps to explore these larger questions about emotions.
Another poet and poem beloved in the Pacific Northwest: David Wagoner's Lost, from Collected Poems 1956-1976:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Winter can be a hard time for people. The combination of high expectations around the winter holidays, and the shorter darker days of winter can be hard, can leave us feeling depleted, lacking the resources we need to address the extra challenges of the season. What to do?
Noticing your own experience with awareness and without judgement can be a support. The New York Times has been running a series on meditation for daily life. This piece, on walking in the rain, is a beautiful example of how we can give ourselves resources without a lot of time or money or effort. It reads in part:
Take a deep breath in, savoring the smell of petrichor — the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. As you release the breath, notice any corresponding release of tension you may have been unconsciously holding.
There is plenty of rain for us here in the winter of Western Oregon to step into this practice and explore whether or not it can be of use.