17 October 2010


A few months back, in these here Gumbo pages, I wrote a little something about feeling irrelevant in modern life.  I reread that tonight as I was languidly trolling through my archives to refresh my memory vis a vis my random thoughts for this year.

Sort of like a kitten discovering a mirror, and being totally freaked out by it.  Plus, a little "can't-take-my-eyes-off-the-trainwreck" phenomenon thrown in for good measure.

These exercises in trawling the seas of the past, and wondering what the nets will bring up, are a regular part of my writing life.  Sometimes, I wonder just what in hell I was thinking on any given day.  Sometimes, I am amazed that I actually wrote some of the stuff I have put to the page.  Not in a narcissistic self-love fest sort, mind you.  I think of it as more like an autopsy or forensic engineering.  I always wonder at the ideas and themes and wordcraft, studying them to see what I could have done differently or better.

Not the most forward thinking way to get things done, I know.  Good for a laugh or two, even if some of those laughs seem a little nervous.

So, back to the irrelevancy post.  As I was saying, I wrote it back in July.  Since then I have been running it through the millstones of my mind without yet coming to any hard conclusions.  That is, until today.  Today,  my daughter and I went to the National Zoo for a long outing in great weather.  The air was cool, the skies were blue and the sun was just right.  Wee Lass and I took the subway because I thought it would be an interesting trip for her (and I'm a weenie when it comes to driving in our nation's capitol), and I was right.  We had a wonderful time on the subway, counting the stops and tracking things on the map.  She was having fun with all the names of the stations.  She even told me the escalator out of the stop before the zoo was "the longest elevator in the world!"  Had a good chuckle over that one.  We thoroughly enjoyed our jaunt to see the animals,  even with the tigers steadfastly refusing to get up from their naps.  And did you know, clouded leopards are incredibly beautiful?  Made me want to go to Tibet just to see one in the wild.

What does this have to do with irrelevancy?  Nothing and everything.  It happened when we left the zoo to head back to the Metro station.  Wee Lass wanted me to take her picture while she sat inside one of the big concrete 'O's that form the ZOO sign at the entrance.  She held the little stuffed monkey* I had bought her for a souvenir and she (sort of) grinned for me as I snapped away with the camera.  Standing there, warm and feeling good in the smooth white gold October sunshine, I looked at her eyes through the viewfinder and thought:

What does it matter if I am relevant only by the standards of culture?  I am her father, she is my daughter who loves me, and that's the only validation that truly matters.  I have purpose.

I pressed the shutter button, and the click sounded for all the world like the cosmos had righted itself.

*More accurately, a stuffed monkey residing in a fuzzy purse emblazoned with the words "Go Bananas!", dubbed 'Bananee' by Her Royal Cuteness.


  1. What does it matter if I am relevant only by the standards of culture? I am her father, she is my daughter who loves me, and that's the only validation that truly matters. I have purpose.

    contentment is awesome.

  2. beautiful writing. I do that review thing, as well, and am astounded at the themes that emerge (I'm still clueless).

    Your scene with your daughter is explosive -- enlightenment! Your job, Daddy, is to put one foot in front of the other (joyfully when you can) for this child. She will need you every day in so many ways...studies show how important it is for girls' self-esteem to have a loving, involved father. You are on a grand adventure.

  3. I love that phrase "feeling irrelevant in modern life." Who doesn't feel that way? Yet you are extremely relevant to YOUR life. And to your daughter's life.

  4. Sounds like a good day at the zoo....

  5. the moment when you realize you count is sometimes a fleeting instant...but you have to cling to those moments, cuz sometimes that's all we get......


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...