life and plenty of it

Seems as good a time as any to mention the vision I had last week. Hedwig was still in the shop so I had to take Claire and Jules to swimming class and to the dentist on public transport. Luckily the pool and the pediatric dentist are only half a mile apart, so though it was all very stressful, we managed to pull it off. (Claire has perfect teeth. She loves going to the dentist, the little freak, because there are TVs above all the chairs and small terriers making the rounds, and the nurses are lovely and shower her with stickers and toys. My efforts to prevent her from inheriting my dental phobia seem to be paying off.)

So we’re heading home on the 24-Divisadero, and Claire is asleep with her head on my lap, and Julia is standing on my other knee gurgling at the passengers on the seat in front, and I look at my girls and say “I am so lucky” as I try to do every day or two, and when I look out the window again I see the Tree of Life. It’s the sign for some business or other, a nice piece of ironwork hanging out from a corner shop; but its branches and roots are open to the light and there’s a circle around the whole thing. It’s Yggdrasil all right.

In less time than it takes to draw breath, I realize that I am the tree and my daughters are my roots and my branches are my mother and father and their parents and their parents’ parents, all the way back to the beginning of life (I know that’s sort of the wrong way round, but that’s how it appeared to me); and that my improbable decision to have children at all was the moment at which I began to participate in my life instead of just observing it (obviously not true for everyone, but true for me); and that the idea of a species is as artificial as the idea of a nation-state, and that my loyalty properly lies not with Australia and humanity but with Earth and all living things.

I have these little epiphanies from time to time. I won’t vouch for their intellectual merit, but there’s no denying their emotional force.

San Francisco is painfully beautiful at the moment, all humane residential architecture and damp Indian-summer flowers bowing in the first rains.

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