Yesterday Benji and I went for a walk in the morning. On our way was the former site of a gigantic nursery, now (surprise!) being turned into a vast housing complex. While my enthusiasm for this project in general is minimal – I dread the added traffic congestion and increased student load on Benji’s future elementary school – at the moment I can’t imagine a project more thrilling to Benji.
We walked a little way along an offroad path that parallels this construction site and found a safe, quiet spot where Benji could get out of the stroller and see standing up by himself. (This didn’t, however, stop him from wanting to be held up the entire time. Isometric exercises?) Here’s what we saw.
Yes, that’s a huge dump truck dumping a load of tree debris right in front of us. Most of the action was far away, and although Benji seemed to see just fine, this dump truck moment elicited a constant stream of excited babbling. Here’s a link to a video I took: https://flic.kr/p/oxgxx9
This was the view in general. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but we watched two bulldozers moving dirt, a digger, dump trucks dump two loads, and one claw-ended digger thing carrying tree parts around. I finally made us leave because we had a playdate with friends, but it was like tearing a cover from a book. We spent the rest of the day on and off recounting, with great excitement, everything we’d seen.
Boy, life’s thrilling when you’re almost two. Actually, recently Ian commented to me on how Benji feels strongly enough about things to actually feel heartbroken when they don’t work out. Yes, to us, they’re unimportant; grown-ups don’t deeply value putting truck cans and trailers together, or eating apricots, but to Benji, these things matter. When was the last time I let myself feel this strongly, about anything at all? I shield myself from hurt and disappointment by not letting myself feel deeply about anything at all. It’s a defensive strategy we all use, I think. But I’m coming to suspect that our adult lives are poorer for it, since eliminating feeling deep pain means sacrificing feeling deep joy, too.
And if I’ve learned one thing from Benji so far, it’s that life offers moments of joy constantly. We get to choose whether accepting the risk of embracing those feelings is worth the pain. I hope I can be brave enough to live with the same delight I see Benji finding in life.