Friday, December 02, 2005

The Secret to Getting What You Want

Just yesterday Sofi used her hand to reach out and hit something and, after seeing what the result was, she did it a few times after that with big smiles. For some of you reading this it might not seem like a big deal. But for Dana and I it is a crucial step for Sofia on the path of development that is cause for celebration––and yes, a bit of bragging.

When we are infants we are whole (notice I said 'we' as it's easy to detach from our own beginnings and only recently am I making the connection myself). We are at unity with the world and everything in it, our sense of self is no different from our sense of 'other' or 'else.' For infants, everything is happening to them. Light, sound, touch, a car driving by, a plane over head. It is quite the opposite of the way we experience the world as adults with our world diced up and arranged into neat categories with value judements attached to each one like product descriptions in a mail order catalog. According to many philosophers and theologians, my favorite Alan Watts our problems are rooted in the misperception that we are separate from our environment, that there is a 'me' and an 'everything else' category.

But back to the thread of this posting, before I go into orbit. Watching Sofi focus intently on something dangling before her (one of those plush mobiles) has been an enlightening experience for us. In order for her to finally reach out to touch the thing, days and days of preparation needed to have taken place. She began with simply becoming aware that there is, in fact, a thing hanging in front of her face. Next, after mulling this over for a while, realized that she too can touch this thing to make it move like we do. Major problem: she doesn't realize she has the use of her arms. Until this point she's been on autopilot, 'flying the invisible stunt kite," as if she was controlling two strings, one in each hand making it twist and dive above her.

So we keep an eye on her as she focuses all her powers of concentration on this one object hanging before her. So intense a moment that she begins to bubble at the mouth, her tongue darting in and out, a sign of things to come (so many kids use their tongue to guide their hands when doing things like coloring and drawing... I used to use my tongue on road trips when I was a boy to skip over the cracks in the highway.. when one came close to the front of the car.. I'd snap my tongue to the roof of my mouth and when I sensed we'd made it over.. tongue would drop back down) So a few days of this intense focusing on the hanging stuffed elephant and suddenly her left arm responds to the desire to reach out and touch it. I wouldn't call it control, but there's no doubt that she hit this thing a few times, smiling after each turn, aware that she had made a giant step.

Now, of course I don't write about any old thing. You're thinking: "What's the lesson here, Tommy Boy?" (To be honest with myself, I have to admit that no one is asking that and it's only me.... so be it.)

What I learned from watching this play out is that in life, you cannot achieve something if you do not truly and whole-heartedly desire it. Some of us complain over and over: "I don't know why I didn't get that job," or "I wanted to go to Europe, but I just never really had the money," or "I wanted to go to the moon with the Apollo, but there were no more seats available." But––and it's taken me until thirty-one years of age to truly absorb this–– they didn't want it bad enough. Simple. I want to play music, make an album, play shows all over the world, be interviewed on radio shows... but how bad do I want it?
It's something to think about, for all of us. How bad do you want to touch the dream that is dangling before your face like a carrot on a string? If the answer is "With all my heart and soul, Tom" then god bless you, go out and grab it before it's too late.

I'm right behind you.


Los said...

great message Tom. i'll be sure to keep this in mind when i question why i haven't achieved certain goals yet. thx =)

audiopilot said...

yeah, but I thought that you eventually DID get that sex change operation?

mattylu said...

Tom, That's beautifully written because it is clearly from the heart. How amazing that you are paying such close attention to your child's development. The lessons, as you see, are endless and often profound. Great photos as well. Thanks for sharing.