I Don't Want An Artificial Life
It took only one sip of the "fresh-squeezed" orange juice I ordered to realize I just drank some Sunny D. I never minded Sunny D until I tried the real stuff and realized that artificial orange wasn't for me. It wasn't until my 30's when I decided that nearly everything artificial wasn't for me (excluding movie popcorn and fake eyelashes because the world does feel like a better place with those two things, ya know?).
I don't want an artificial life.
I want to remember feeling the juicy tenderness of a tomato at the farmer's market. Then ladling hot vegetable soup into bowls to feed four hungry bellies.
I read authors that make me laugh and cry and ruminate for days. I want to read about experiences that feel hilarious, raw, exhilarating… sometimes dangling. Not what's always comfortable and pretty (I'm reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed now and loving it, have you read it?)
I watch nearly hypnotized each time the golden glow of beeswax slowly pours into votives when we make candles each season. Five year old Leena is in charge of plopping in the wicks, watching it cool, and then blowing out the candles at dinner time.
"Thank you, bees," she says as the lavender scented smoke encircles us.
I gravitate towards true friendships. The kind that you can cry in a blanket while she says, "I'm here for you," and we both laugh so hard we drive home from our late tea date with sore cheeks.
I sometimes step into the artificial world of social media and scroll my phone for much too long. I'm left with a dull headache. I feel taller and gaze softer in natural sunlight, with redwood trees to lean on and no cell phone reception for miles.
Child, I hope you shy away from the artificial too.
Can you feel the magic in the real and true like I do?
Sweet baby, you moved so naturally and comfortably on your blanket as I sat nearby. There was never any need for propping you up to artificially sit or holding your hands to walk. You laid on your back and stretched, rolled, reached, and looked at your hands in the sunshine.
Then you sat up on your own when you were ready, and walked on your own natural timetable even though it was considered “late.”
You play often with real things made from the Earth - rocks we find in our own apartment complex become Story Stones, and seashells discovered in the ocean become telephones. You wrap silk scarves around your shoulders as capes, and stack wooden blocks as tall as you.
Tender soul, share your true feelings with me, if you'd like. Laugh yourself silly or reveal how angry you are at a situation. Or even how angry you are at me. I'm here to listen, and to help if you want it.
There's no need for iPads to learn about the natural world. Lay with me on this blanket and let's watch the bay twinkle from the sunshine peeking out from the clouds. Point out the seagulls diving into water for a fish. Sketch in your notebook a snail slithering on the grass and detail the swirls on its shell. And wonder aloud, "do you ever think I'll find a unicorn beetle Mama?"
I'll let you get bored sometimes until you ball your hands into fists and cry out, "Mama! I've never been so bored and I can't stand it!" I'll watch you find something to do eventually, and often times reluctantly.
I think to myself, 'Yes, life can be boring sometimes, and then it changes and feels hilarious, raw, exhilarating…sometimes dangling.'
Each night when I tuck you in, I whisper to you, "I love you just the way you are."
There is nothing artificial in that.