Girl oracle


The lil’ monkey and I are talking about time. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; yesterday, today, tomorrow. Past, present, future. It grew out of a quip I’d made. I had asked her to clean up a mess she’d made, and she said — brace yourself for a shock here — “I’ll do it tomorrow!”

I reply with something wise that had once been told me. “Tomorrow never really happens, punkin! Once we get to tomorrow, it’s today. And today will have become yesterday, and the day after tomorrow is what tomorrow is.  You follow?”

I stiffle the perverse urge to blurt out “Third base!” since I knew we had a chance of making some progress on the core concepts. (Abbot and Costello aficionados, this-a-way, please.)

She says it’s a little confusing, but thinks it’s hard to understand mostly because I’m standing at the other end of the room. I agree, and also suggest it might help to see the ideas with her eyes. So I come closer, and grab a few objects with which to demonstrate: some coasters, some paper, and a few colored pens.  (Thus.)

She watches me shuffle the objects around like a Times Square shell game huckster, and I pepper her with a small herd of Socratic questions.  She watches, she ponders, she answers, and ultimately she is satisfied with her knowledge of time. For the time being. (“It’s all relative!” I conclude, triumphantly.) For my part, since I am the person time forgot, it’s less the time stuff and more the conceptual stuff I’m interested in.  And she clearly has the conceptual stuff down.

A few moments later, over tea, we review and reflect on our mini-tutorial.

“The Buddhists spend a lot of time talking about how important it is to pay attention to the present, to what’s happening right now,” I say, never one to overlook an opportunity to slip in another a wee homily. It’s Muzak, perpetually on the parent channel.

She looks up thoughtfully over her mini-teacup of peppermint tea. “Why?”

“Well, that’s all we ever have. This moment,” and I gesture with my hands to indicate one spot in time. “And then this moment.” Then I scootch a bit to the side to indicate a sequence. “And then this one. But that’s what we have. What’s in the past and in the future are largely in our imaginations.” I kind of believe that, and kind of don’t. Or I do, but with conditions. But our tutorial today is in broad strokes.

Then the girlie ups and paraphrases what I was about to say next.

“If you’re afraid of the future,” she says, “you’re afraid of nothing at all. You don’t know what the future is unless you have a crystal ball to tell it in.”

“Have you ever met anyone who had one?” I ask, leading a bit. (Don’t tell her, but a wee Wizard of Oz-ish crystal ball is part of an elaborate, custom gift coming her way in about a week.)

“No,” she says, soberly. “But I can tell the fake future.”  She gets up and goes over to the utensil drawer. “I can tell the fake future using metal objects like this spoon.”

She carefully places the spoon to her forehead and faux-divines, in that elongated-vowel, spooky-mysterious voice that comes so naturally after the words abracadabra.

“In the fuuuuture,” she intones, “everything is going to be smaller than it is now.”



7 thoughts on “Girl oracle”

  1. “In the fuuuuture,” she intones, “everything is going to be smaller than it is now.”

    Well, that’s a relief. If everything were going to be BIGGER in the future, we’d run out of room for it all.

  2. Okay, I’m laughing, but I want to cry, because – wow! And (unbelievably astute observation ahead) what an amazing illustration of the concept of being present in the “now”. Can you imagine having missed that? And the hormones are making me extra weepy. She is amazing.

    • Bless your hormones.

      Her Gramma says, if a bunch of Buddhist monks in saffron robes come to the door with various objects for her to identify, we should grab her, tuck her under an armpit, and RUN in the opposite direction. Because if she were to successfully point out this, that, and the other item of the 14th Dalai Lama’s — and Gramma is pretty sure she would — we’d basically not see her for the rest of her life. Except for when she’s offering public lectures or accepting her Nobel, etc.

  3. I just love her particular mix of solemn seriousness and deadpan humor.

    And as any adult who has re-visited their own elementary school can attest, everything does get smaller!

  4. I really need this right now. I often live in fear of what the future might hold, thinking that if I knew how all of this turns out I might be at peace. Intellectually, I know that I have to live in the present. Intellectually.

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