I took the kids to swimming lessons last night. (It’s part of the reason my Tuesday Tunesday has already gone off the rails, two attempts in.) I was sitting back aways from the pool, hoping I could watch both of them simultaneously even in their separate classes. Judah was sitting against the wall on this little step that runs around the outside of the entire room–it’s maybe a foot off the ground (though I’m pretty terrible at estimating that kind of thing). And my skinny little 5-year-old, all bones and sinew and ligament, put his elbows on his knees and I realized just how bent his knees were, just how long his legs are, and suddenly I had this vision of him as a teenager, lanky and gangly like I was, worthy of that nickname Ribs that my sister gave me. It was, in some sense, a trick of distance–when he’s close, like when we were wrestling earlier in the day, he still seems small, just beyond toddlerdom. But from afar, I had perspective, and I arrived at the bittersweet conclusion that he’s growing up, faster than I can track or measure.  

It got me thinking about distance. I do my work mostly in the myopic; I wrestle phrases and clauses and words and sentences, some days I spend an hour on a paragraph. I read papers looking for comma splices and misplaced apostrophes. I prefer short stories and songs–the hardest thing about writing a novel was trying to keep the whole thing in my head. And I’ve probably always been this way–my idea of planning for the future entails figuring out if we need a babysitter for Friday night. On Wednesday afternoon. 

But distance seems like an important skill, especially in developing discernment. And I’d like to get wiser with age–I’d like to be able to step back and see the bigger picture, get a wider view, see the long skinny legs of my son. 

That’s all really. No moral, no righteous accomplishment. Just a realization. And maybe a long-term, distant goal. 

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