authors, books, culture, family, In My Opinion, inspiration, parenting, writing

IMO: Baby Talk and the Passage of Time

Fellow blogger, South African/Londoner,  ABBI O,  chronicled her thoughts of pregnancy; when “Little O” was born, Abbi continued her posts about the life-change, documenting her thoughts of motherhood and the demands of her now five-month-old son. Not only does her dry wit make me laugh, she makes me think about the passage of time. Her journal-in-the-making is a clever idea. I imagine Little O when he’s older and turns into Bigger O asking her what it was like to carry him inside her body? To have him? What was he like as a boy? She has gathered her posts and self-published them. She tosses her book to Bigger O and says, “Read all about it.” When Abbi is much older, she will toss the book to her pregnant daughter-in-law, and assure her the fear is universal, the experience is awesome, she understands, and it will bring comfort. When Abbi is ancient, she will revisit herself in words, that worried young woman from her past, and smile at her and feel pride that she muddled through it all miraculously just fine. She’ll look across the room at Biggest O, who is now a father himself, and wonder how time flew by.

Based on a diary, 1785–1812, professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich investigated the entries of a midwife, Martha Ballard. It’s an interesting account because, in the center of a Maine community, she literally touched the lives of everyone in it and provided a glimpse of the values and expectations of gender, the struggle to fight the seasons, impartial diseases, techniques for perseverance, and the cycle of life through births and deaths. It is a rare, profound historical portrait. And yet, at the time of her writing, Martha Ballard was unaware her diary entries would become important one day. Her “voice” varied depending on time and tiredness. Martha was at times insightful, other times clinical, like her profession as she weaved in and out of households aiding the sick. Recommended. 4/5.

In my opinion, Abbi is creating a historical portrait, a primary source. Fifty years from now, a hundred years–two–social historians could look to her blog or self-published book about motherhood and life from 2016 onward from a historical perspective. I read about an abolitionist the other day whose date of birth matched my own, minus a hundred years. She was born in 1863 and lived until 1951. Can you imagine all that she saw? How much the world changed? From the death of Abraham Lincoln through World War II? From buggies to rocket ships? From the telegraph to the television? I wonder what life will be like if I made it until 2051. Just saying the date makes me shake my head in wonder.

Here is the passage of time illustrated by my granddaughter, Amelia. She’ll be four in February.

Where did the time fly? 

culture, In My Opinion, inspiration

Are you in the present, past or future?

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Jim lives in the present. He’s the one that notices the bands of color in clouds during the sunrise; he finds the horned toad on a rock and the mound of delicate wildflowers on the backside of the tree. He can sit in a chair and soak in the music and have a conversation with a stranger for an hour and be quite content. Next Saturday is far away and next year is inconceivable. Living in the present is a talent he’s mastered and I utterly lack.

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Conversely, I live in my head, planning next month’s weekend, next year’s trip, my next car, the next job, the next decade, and my retirement. I search for future financial opportunities and future dreams of reinvention. Did you know in fifty years they will have the capability to create a new heart for an individual by using DNA and a three-dimensional “printer”? Will my grandchildren live to see age 150? Will my government implant an I.D. chip in my arm for identification and “safety”? Will I have to live in Panama because I will be unable to afford to live in my beloved U.S.A.?

When I’m not thinking about the future, I write, teach, and wonder about the past. I’m researching local history of 1927 to better frame my fictional characters.  At school we are studying the U.S. Civil War. Every year I learn something new. For example, did you know the history surrounding the term “Jayhawks”?

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It’s a nickname given to 1850s guerrilla fighters in Kansas who attempted by force to ensure that the Kansas Territory would be admitted to the Union as a Free State. Part Blue Jay, part Sparrow Hawk, this pesky mythical bird demands attention. By the time the Civil War ended, “Jayhawkers” had become a patriotic symbol for freedom and eventually the mascot for U of K. Read all about the University of Kansas Jayhawk history

Anyway, I’d rather find meaning about the past or the future through books and films. I rarely read a newspaper or watch the news. I’ll wait until it’s past-tense before I consider it. This is a foolish, terrible practice. I rely on Jim and my friends to keep me abreast of what’s going on in the world. Because after I’ve considered the future and the past, there’s little time left for the present; perhaps because the present is a very scary place to be while I find the past familiar and the future fun to speculate. It’s the present that alarms me, and I reckon that’s why I avoid it.

How about you? Do you find you are a person living in the past, present, or future?