When I was little, I was often more than a handful, as children tend to be.  I had seemingly boundless energy, which I’m sure drove my mother up the walls.  I have no idea how she got this to work, but when I was overly hyperactive she would take me calmly by the shoulders and tell me that I should go run around the house ten times.  And believe it or not, that is exactly what I’d do.  If I returned from my travels still energetic, she would tell me that I now needed to run around the house ten times the other way.  I needed to unwind, both literally and figuratively. I’m not sure how long this worked, but probably for a number of years.

(My niece Eva and I both at around the age of two and a half: 2009/1983)

Maybe a year ago my sister Stephanie and I were on the phone.  She now has three small children under the age of four, but at that time it was still just Eva and my godson Leo.  Eva is very smart and very independent, and like me years earlier with our mother, she was driving Stephanie up the walls.  Stephanie had turned to Eva and told her with enthusiasm that she should go run around the house ten times, not knowing if it would work.  Remarkably, it did.  Eva and Leo are close in age (3.5 and 2) and are now fast friends.  They often chase each other around the first floor of my sister’s home, and on occasion, around the house itself.

Eva is mischief and Leo is joy / They send their art through the mail

As Stephanie and I talked on the phone that day, the story of Eva running around the house ten times really struck a chord with me, and I felt in it the echo of my own childhood.  I began to see it as a metaphor for how adults tire themselves out, often with tasks just as insignificant.  We keep on running, not always aware of the direction.  As I get older I see more clearly the consequences of the choices we make in our lives, and to a certain extent also the diverging paths my sister and I have taken.  I’m not saying I regret any of the choices I’ve made, but I’ve also become tangibly aware of the value of hers.  In a sense, I’m still running ten times round the house, and I begin to wonder if perhaps its time to come inside.

(Leo and I with chocolate cakes, on our respective 2nd birthdays: 2010/1983)

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