Thursday, August 8, 2013

Forever

forever adv.
continually; persistently; for all time.
(- The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English)

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.”
(- Jorge Luis Borges)

It is said that the fundamental equations of physics all have no directionality in time. In other words, all theoretic interactions can proceed in the reverse direction without violating any physical laws. But in life, while we can reflect on past events and learn from them we cannot influence them. Therein lays one of life’s central quandaries: that, however irrationally, in our minds we can choose to dwell in either side of forever.

Or we may choose to see the whole—with its past and its future—as a shimmering gift.

This is the gift we gave to Henry and to his sisters before him. We are their bridge from one side of forever to the other, their safe and solid ground.

In essence, fate has granted this family some uncommon lessons about home: what it is and what it means to have one, and what happens when you extend your arms as a warm place in which to truly belong.

China too will always belong to each of our children, but in an oblique way that will almost certainly hurt to fully understand.  It might be easy to see in this a lost side of forever. We hope not. That is because in China, also far from perfect, one does find a kind of graceful chaos, but also, even today, an enviable measure of shared reverence for aesthetic beauty in austerity and, most deeply, for sacrifice, and sometimes these can be less evident on this side of the planet. China's common images of blossoms and simple fronds on scrolls or cloth are emblems of an understanding and minor decoratives only if considered superficially. Harmony and centeredness. Honor to oneself and family. To bend and not break. These are some of the ancient but enduring ideas into which our children were born, then in their ways separated in modern non sequitur. So we try to give them tools they will need to keep China in their hearts, for when they piece their puzzles together from the past we will help them look for, however much they each decide to.

China is a distance so far away that the stars Henry and his sisters see at night are in a sense last night’s stars there. But time, forever, is the substance we are made of.
There are no fixed limits.
Time does not stand still.
Nothing endures,
Nothing is final.
You cannot lay hold
Of the end or the beginning.
He who is wise sees near and far
As the same.
(- Chuang Tzu)

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