Crawling Backwards

My eight-month old is facing the biggest challenge of her young life thus far.  She wants desperately to crawl so she can independently explore the world around her. She gets up on all fours, rocks back and forth with gusto.  She has mastered the art of scooting backward, and I sometimes turn to find her across the room after her little backward wiggle has taken her further and further from the toy mecca I have set up for her.  She bangs her adorable little face onto the floor in frustration and tears.

I watch her with a mixture of humor and anxiety.  It’s the first of many moments in her life where she will become conscious of the chasm between her deepest desires and her current state of being.  It sounds so hokey, but I was struck by such a raw moment of human desire just out of reach.

I so often feel that same sensation-desperately grasping to be capable of that next stage of development in my life that is just out of reach.  I want it so badly, and intuitively I know what it will be like when I get there.  I can see myself in my mind’s eye at that next stage in my life, confident and at ease with myself.  But here I am, in these moments of anxiety, impatience, and isolation.

Yet isn’t that what ultimately creates the most joy?  When we push ourselves, accepting the anxiety and pain and anger at ourselves for our frailty, the moment we take that first tentative step feel so delicious.

So I must stand by, with an ache in my chest as she struggles and whimpers her way to those first exhilarating moments when her body and mind align and she begins to crawl. And then walk. And run. And skip and jump and dance and swim and learn calculus and get her heart broken in a million pieces and perform surgery and manage a difficult employee and take care of her demented parents…

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