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Being a father. For almost a year now (it seems to me that being a father knows no duration; only: you are one or you’re not). It is not difficult to be a father. And this is so for a simple reason. In the past (before I was a father or even earlier) I thought that all wisdom, all knowledge, all that is good, comes from the ancient ones. It is what is called tradition, which in its old meaning means handing down, or imparting. Wisdom, knowledge, the good — fundamentally it is always already there, it must only reach the new, young people, not a straightforward process (sometimes — much less frequently than they believe — the young think they have brought something utterly new into the world, which turns out — soon, if they are lucky, not decades later — to be ancient). Being a father myself, therefore, I would have to be such a hoard of knowledge, of wisdom and of goodness that would now be passed on through me to our baby. Now that I am a father, I think differently (without rejecting my earlier view as an error).The easiness of being a father is due to the tradition of the present, the wisdom, the knowledge, the goodness of the youngest ones, the babies. With a teacher, a master like our baby, being a father is the easiest practice in the world. I am  a father (and have been for almost a year now: a time that is neither short nor long) and it seems to me that for the first time I am being something with a passion that does not diminish. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Das erste Jahr jetzt auf:

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Are babies beautiful? Ours obviously is, we would like to say, our vanity readily excludes any other possible answer. But curiously, our vanity does not feel hard-pressed when we also say: all babies are beautiful, they are all very beautiful creatures. We look at our baby. We can find nothing in him that contradicts his beauty. (In ourselves, on the other hand we immediately find many things that are not beautiful). It’s as if for the baby there is only beauty (as if it were chosen for beauty). Everything ugly is unthinkable, impossible, out of the question. Beauty in the baby seems to be firmly anchored, inseparable from him. It does not waver, shows no weaknesses and does not exaggerate. Impossible to grow weary of it or to sate oneself on it. It engenders no longing, does not come or go ( – this is not how we and our kind are. Every day on the street we see beauty coming and going. Sometimes in a single second. Like a timid animal, beauty shows her face and ducks away. She never stays; even in the most beautiful people she is on flight. The most awful thing happens when she forms an alliance with arrogance and conceit. She is indeed in danger of vanishing and never coming back.) Babies never cease to be beautiful. That is the only thing they cannot do.

 

 

362

Das erste Jahr jetzt auf:

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The baby tames me (your taming, naturally, seems different to me). Witnessing one’s own affects is always interesting; making this observation additionally in the baby’s presence (in his decidedly favorable light) reveals things both astonishing and unexpected. Our baby distributes his teachings in measured doses: his refusal to have fresh diapers put on him, or not to instantly empty every filled cup onto the table the moment it is put in his hand, over the days and weeks of our time together (which otherwise is more marked by inquisitive cooperation). But then (and maybe it’s the crude contrast between cooperation and refusal that produces this intensity) the rage rocket ignites inside me (after the fifth or tenth attempt to attach the adhesive diaper fastener to its counterpart, or after wiping the mess off the table for the fifth or tenth time) and I already fear, no, not the worst, but at least a lasting annoyance that will ruin half my day, and just at that moment the rocket bursts and, astonished, I stand beneath a red-gold rain of spheres that gently and without a sound sinks down onto me from above (while the baby triumphantly holds up the diaper, handing it over to me, but I’m not falling for this now). So I am tamable, which means, I cease to obey myself, as I have been long since accustomed to doing. (One lovely day I thought, now I know who I am. On another lovely day, today, I think, I’m not at all the way I always thought: I’m not easily enraged on trivial occasions, no, now my rage calms me down the moment it breaks out. Come, baby, refuse once more, pour out your tea again! Come on, do it! – But he doesn’t want to.)

361

Das erste Jahr Babybuddha jetzt auf:

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At the end of a baby day I suddenly think I’ve lost my language and must immediately go outside, onto the street, to a bar, to some show, be among people, in order to convince myself of the opposite. Our baby draws me out of my world without really letting me into his world. We are so different, I think then, it’s a miracle we can relate to each other at all, and right after that I think, with a shock, but we can’t relate to each other at all. The next moment it seems unthinkable to me (and inconceivable) that I ever was a baby myself, unthinkable even in a dream (and inconceivable). We (the baby, I) are completely separate from each other (in all ways and forever), no two beings could be more dissimilar, and what has brought us together today, on this day, will remain a mystery and a secret for all days to come. This absolute difference from my life – that is today’s lesson (and I go outside almost the moment you come home, and look for someone in order to see if I still am one of those people outside, for you can’t help me along, and it’s not hard to find someone, but I hesitate to approach him, finally I do approach him and the first thing I tell him has to do with our baby, and the words start flowing and I tell him what happened today, and talking is easy and my listener understands me, and I say: So I do still belong, and my listener says: Of course you do, sure.)

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Plagued by toothing pains once again, our baby becomes quiet. Soon we too stop our talking (you yours, I mine). For words increase pain, instead of diminishing it. Or they distract one from the pain, diminish it in this way, without any actual decrease in its strength. Our baby is les an artist of pain than a connoisseur of pain. That is the only way we can explain his quietness and his seriousness. It doesn’t seem to us that he is getting to know pain only now, but as if pain were catching up with him (as if pain had not come toward him but had approached him from behind, from before). But it is good that we are near the baby, we just need to be silent. Pain needs witnesses who will do it justice. (I have to do it. I place my hand on the baby’s belly, as a consolation, to assure him of my presence and my empathy. I hope the pain, his pain, might drain off a bit through my hand. But the baby merely pushes my hand slowly, but firmly, aside. He looks at me briefly as he does this: a small reprimand. At first I am disappointed, then delighted. Then I leave the two of you alone.)

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Das erste Jahr jetzt auf:

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We belong to our baby (you even more than I, I suspect; then I suspect it’s me much more than you, because sometimes the two of you appear to me like two parts of the same glorious conspiracy). Yes, the baby is our sole owner, and we cannot argue with these ownership arrangements. Our baby makes it easy for us (we are still young students, after all) by doing things that seem and actually are joyful and sweet, but whose serious background (the fact that we belong to him) cannot possibly escape us (we may be young students, but we’re past the first grade). Just as the baby climbs over and on top of us in the morning when we bend and stretch our bodies with a few exercises (as though we were living on a bobbin that winds itself up during sleep until in the morning, once again, we try laboriously to unwind a few yards, enough for a day); just as the baby climbs off us (who are lying on our backs on mats), babbling as he circles us in order once again to climb atop his possession; just so is how it is both in large and small matters: we don’t belong to ourselves!

 

 

 

 

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Das erste Jahr jetzt auf:

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A clownish baby (the way he pulls your silk scarf over his head and now wildly waves his arms beneath this veil until he frees himself from his hiding place, tears the cloth off himself, lets out an exuberant laugh, and immediately does the same thing all over again. Or this: throwing things down from his high chair and following them with a look that says: Crazy things, why do they keep falling on the floor? But this too: banging his own head against your breast, drumming the sofa pillow with it, or deliberately bouncing it against the backboard of his crib. Standing in front of the second lowest drawer of the secretary, pulling out DVDs and flinging them to the ground and grinning at you, at me, after each throw. And then, holding on to the edge of the table, that hilarious, waggle-kneed dance with his behind swinging to and fro while we make a little music). A lot of what we call practice is really nothing but clowning! Just look at that droll sparkling glance, like a spray of tiny stars, the silvery gleam on his forehead, the redness of dawn on his cheeks. Our baby is off his rocker. Not: he used to be like this and like that and then he went off his rocker, but: he is off his rocker. He shows us his foolishness, isn’t just playing it for us, no: he is foolishness personified. This is amazing! And good for nothing – or? Do you feel the warmth? Amidst all his flinging and waving and fumbling and dancing, our baby glows. (Did we ever stop being off our rocker?)