My daughter and I spent a day on Massachusetts’ Plum Island earlier this week, and as the photo makes evident, the day was a good one: Temperatures in the mid-60s, few people (but many birds), a picnic lunch, and driftwood. Lots of driftwood. So, gathering some in, I tried building with it. What I ended up with initially was a complex, heaped-up hut. But knowing (even as I built) that complexity disagrees with everything I believe in, I pulled it all down to its beginning point.
Interestingly, that’s when my efforts caught Quetzal’s attention. “What’s that?” she asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “What do you think it is?”
“I think it’s an opening,” she said.
“Yes,” I said: “An opening. To land, sky, and ocean, to beginning and ending, to living and dying, to dreaming, creating…and to you when you’re old like me and me when I’m young again like you…”
“Dad,” she said with a crazy laugh, and then she immediately returned to her own fantasy, which, as the photo half-shows, was directly in front of mine.
“It’s a circle inside a circle inside a circle,” she said when I looked in on it.
One of her circles, the inner-most one, was a series of sand dollars–not found sand dollars, but those she had drawn in the sand with various shells and a crab leg.
Later we went for a walk along the shore and Quetzal made two statements that I need always to remember.
The first, an announcement, went, “I think today is becoming the biggest best day of my life.”
The second, a suggestion, went, “Come on, Dad, let’s run! Let’s run for joy!”
So we ran for joy. And when we stopped and looked back we saw that we had run for joy for a long way. It was then that I realized that the day was becoming my biggest best day, too.
When we returned to our place on the beach, we each took turns going through the “opening.”
“It’s an opening to joy,” I said.
But Quetzal wasn’t listening. She was on to something else. Moving away to a high point behind us, she turned back to the ocean, and, holding her arms wide, started for the water like a large bird, her arms flapping up and down like wings. As she neared the ocean I was amazed to see that she didn’t lift off. With so much joy propelling her just then, actual flight had seemed an inevitability.