November 06, 2010

Windowpane Wisdom

Condensation doesn't last.  Bright realized this the other day, and cried for 10 minutes at its passing.  He had been enjoying it so much.  He had stood on his school table, at the far end of his bedroom, swiping his warm finger over the cold glass, making shapes and swirls and letters, stretching his firm little body as far as he could on the tips of his tip-toes to make the most of this wonderful new medium.  But the course of time caught up with him.  The morning sun rose above the building to the east and its heat caused streaks of water to roll down over Bright's shapes and swirls and letters until the window began to look more and more like a plain piece of glass.

Bright learned a tough lesson at mid-morning on that day, a lesson that he will be learning for the rest of his life.  It will take many forms.  This week for him, at 5 1/2 years old, it was a windowpane.  Next year, at 6 1/2 years old, it might be a friendship.  At 16 1/2 years old, it might be a girl.  At 26 1/2 years old, it might be a child born with half a chance.  The lesson begs a question, one without a definitive answer: Do we grab hold of the fleeting and pour ourselves into it, risking the pain of watching it fade, or break, or disappear altogether, or do we learn that it is best to leave the windowpane alone?

I hope that the next time my son sees condensation, he will again climb up on the table and create beauty, even though he knows it will not last.  What I hope for all of my children, and for myself as well, is a real understanding that nothing lasts - not like we would like it to - but that all good things are worth everything we've got.