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If we’re asked what we’re doing (the baby, you, I) the answer is, not much, strictly speaking we’re doing nothing, nothing at all. Apart from a few important things, we walk around without purpose. In fact, by now we’re taking care of even the most important things in the same way that we do the meaningless ones. Although — there really aren’t any meaningless things, although — there aren’t any important things. In short, we don’t do much, yet we experience a lot. With a side glance at our baby with his sidelong glance (he’s looking at a recently heat-insulated wall with a sign: “No leaning of bicycles here!” — at nothing, that is, that might serve as an experience), we say: it seems to us as though we had only recently started to experience things. Ever since the birth of our baby, little by little (because we’re slow learners) we have found our way into doing nothing, which is actually the richest kind of doing there can be, and now it would be hard for us to stop doing nothing. It is an unbelief that we share with some parents (but many have already fallen away from it), the unbelief of our contentment in not-doing, which is impervious to any activity we may undertake (after all, we are pursuing our professions, albeit with somewhat shortened work hours). So we can say without exaggeration: We have never been busier than today.

 

 

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Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

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What better place for me to collect myself, reflect or write than next to our sleeping baby? His quiet sleep (and the right that lies next to his head, especially the ineffably smooth curve of the back of that hand) allow me to be more awake than I am. The baby sleeps soundlessly, only once in a while his breath demands more, and then, with a hoarse rattle, he sucks in air and after a tiny pause — with relief, it seems — pushes it out again. I see how at those moments his blanket rises noticeably, while otherwise nothing moves. As though the breath in our baby had turned, adjusted itself, made room for itself, like an autonomous being, and were now once again in accord with its host. I remain quiet, but the breath sometimes shifts its position in me too, while my fingertips slowly, carefully, find the letters on the monitor, on this soundless keyboard which I find so thrilling: never, it seems to me, can writing have been closer to the inaudibility of thought (even though this keypad makes writing more difficult; I think it’s due to the lack of physical separation between of the letters, their pseudo-separateness on the touchscreen, a separateness that calls strong mental participation; but that may be an advantage). And so I compare the smoothness of the glass monitor with the smoothness of the back of our baby’s hand and find (though I sense a deep connection, an ancient relation between the two) no conclusion.  

 

 

 

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Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

http://www.hanser-literaturverlage.de/verlage/hanser-box

The surge of tender emotion toward our baby is great (our basic makeup is simple: water, fire, heart, passion). Our baby moderates us; this is one of his favorite ways of practicing his mastery. We have never met anyone who can demonstrate more clearly what is conducive to his well-being. It is not our delight or exuberance that makes it hard for us to recognize this conduciveness. We are so terribly inconsistent in the use of our senses: we see what our baby likes, provided we purify our seeing of ideas, but we also don’t see when we fail to include the right idea in our seeing. It’s the same with our other senses, and we are quite upset by our difficulty in moderating our tenderness. No, no, on the contrary, we are happy that we are so able, again and again, to give and to take within measure, not too much and not too little. This is how our baby teaches us – and then he hangs on us, lays his face on ours, starts to exaggerate, truly exaggerate without measure, knocks his teeth against our knee, bangs his forehead against our nose, dribbles all over us and painfully claws at our neck (we forgot to cut his nails), carries on and yanks at us in a fury of tenderness, laughing as he does this (and slightly, just slightly, he is laughing at us).

 

 

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Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

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Only babies stay serious at the sight of animals. Babies never make fun of other beings, that is an ability (a doubtful ability, we doubt that it’s an ability at all) that we, the grownups, can claim for ourselves. If one questions the ability to make fun of others, it doesn’t take long before one is regarded as somewhat weird: a telling example of the humorlessness of people who consider themselves jokers. And one appears to be particularly weird if one protects and supports the baby’s admiring responses at the zoo: but I can’t help it. The shrieks of two Egyptian Geese are so delightful in their loudness and expressive power, the quacking couple’s choreography so convincing, the drama of accusing one’s partner and heaven simultaneously so overwhelming, that any stupid remark about those funny, comical, cute animals (remarks that have cropped up all around us from the moment we entered the zoo) simply forbids itself. From his stroller, the baby looks about in astonishment at this great spectacle (which happens to be taking place in the giraffe enclosure, to the complete disinterest of the animals themselves) while I put on the airs of a guardian of the world’s order by indulging myself in a loudly uttered comparison between man and beast (more specifically, I am making fun of man, the zoogoer per se). With lightning speed I move into the twilight realm of the dubious, dragging our baby with me. He saves the situation with a change of direction: There! His hand points up, where the giraffes’ feeding basket hangs (a humorous remark is already underway), and at the single specimen that is avidly plucking out hay and further processing it with broadly chewing mandibles. I could swear that it is not only our baby who is imitating the animal’s way of chewing, but that all the other visitors (who have already forgotten us) are chewing all at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

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For one shocking moment (or was it a whole day?) I forgot our baby. It seems to me that the shock coincided with the moment of forgetting. But I am only able to notice that now, after being awakened by a panic that was initially soft and then louder and louder (an insidiousness for which I am grateful). Exhausted, I stay in my shame, which appears to me, even though I am alone, as an utterly public situation (even if every single human being knew of my shame, it could not be greater). Basically, I think, I have violated a sanctuary, destroyed a temple, torn heaven asunder: I forgot our baby! But how could I forget him? I mean, how was it possible for me to forget the baby, who is at one with unforgettability, with his unforgettability, without which he would not be what he is, without which he would not exist in any way at all (I won’t even attempt to excuse myself by outer circumstances – work, a fight, the visit of a friend -, since to do so would be self-deceptive; and so, in this spirit of honesty, late in the evening, I approach our sleeping baby’s bed to seek the inner reason for my forgetting. And then I realize: I was mistaken.) 

 

 

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The baby no longer fits into what he easily fit into just a short while ago. The body stocking with the Mickey Mouse print is too tight, so is the woolen cap, the arms of the gray pajama with the red trim around the zipper are reaching far across the wrists, the new diaper size now has a Plus after the number. And you, your belly — while our baby sits on your arm (you happen to be standing in front of the picture of your grandmother), it’s really unmistakeable: that’s where the baby fits least of all! So this is what is called growth: no longer fitting. A creeping unffitingness. Which takes hold first of the body and later the mind (it’s only when the body has become fitting that the mind really starts to get going. This is how we imagine it – giving each other nods of mutual confirmation: there, in your belly, there really is no more room the baby -, so: once our baby has gotten big some day, his mind will begin to undertake our inspection, and the two of us will get smaller and smaller, small enough for us to fit inside a belly again, not yours, but some belly, perhaps one that itself is just now being born.)

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Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

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It’s disconcerting how slowly and almost unwillingly the baby finally takes notice of the other babies and cautiously recognizes them (a small gathering on the rug, babies, mothers, fathers. Apple slices, pieces of banana, spelt biscuits. Fennel tea and water. Sitting on the floor is extraordinarily easy: we’re almost floating. Where else can one sit together so comfortably?). It can’t be said that life face to face with one’s own kind (that the other babies are babies is something babies recognize instantly) begins with a great deal of trust. Some aversion is involved, but to a much greater degree it’s indifference. The aversion may be due to waking up, the slow slide out of the baby-cocoon (we can’t imagine it: it’s a gliding in all directions), and it will accompany the babies all their lives: these others who are like oneself, who needs them, who wanted them to exist? The indifference is great, but has already been shrinking for quite a while (two hands reaching for a little ball are simply one hand too many), and not to let it shrink too quickly is the greatest challenge for the parents. Social contact (which everyone thinks is so worthy of being encouraged that speeding it up seems a good idea): let it make its own way on its own terms; for the babies will have need of this treasure of indifference later on. (Haven’t we been trying to regain it for some time now? This is an arduous task and almost as impossible as becoming a baby again.)