Picture your own life at age three – but subtract the love.
How do I know there was a lot of love in your home? Because you can read me. I am tough sledding just as grammar, but I also frequently and intentionally put people through excruciating pain – like I’m doing right now. Only folks who learned deep emotional resilience in childhood can put up with me.
So go back to being an awakening child-mind, but take away all the interaction, all the conversation, all the shared events, all the affection – all the teasings and ticklings and snugglings – all the attention. One or both of your parents – or a grandparent or an older sibling – paid an enormous amount of attention to you when you were a baby, or, baby, you could not be here now.
Probably it was a lot of people: A couple or a few all the time, and many more now and then. And each one of those people was working – by intention or not – to cultivate your humanity. Virtually all children get at least minimally-adequate nurturance, since they are ultimately able to walk upright and to bathe nearly often enough. But those of us who are delighted to embrace the life of the mind – my way or any way – are beneficiaries of an enormous amount of attention we can never hope to repay.
So take all that away. What does your life look like to you? What does your future look like? Everyone is somewhere at the age of three. Had you been there then – tended to but never attended to – where would you be by now?
Why does fatherhood matter? Why does art matter? Why does empathy matter, for heaven’s sake? Yours is a cultivated mind. What you are today is what someone wanted for you to (more…)