Somebody once said to me, in the context of a writing tip,
“Everything is like something else. What is this like?”
(I was complaining about my limited life experience inhibiting my overall writing range, and the person proposed that, since everything was like something else, I could broaden my writing range by analogizing something I had never personally experienced with something that I had, thus opening me up to the possibility of my writing about virtually anything.
That was either interesting or boring depending on whether you were interested or bored. It is possible, however, that at some future date, you will consider this some of the sagest writing advice that you have ever received.)
What I experienced a couple of nights ago reminded me of this:
In 1981, Dr. M and I traveled to Kenya for a photographic safari. I recall one morning, sitting at breakfast in one of the game parks – I believe it was Amboseli – when the word went around that, somewhere on the grasslands, a lion was devouring a gazelle.
The safariists immediately leapt into action, abandoning their calorie-rich sticky buns and full-bodied Kenyan coffee, grabbing their cameras, and jumping into their assigned minivans, speeding off to the discovered grazing site in hopes of arriving there before the lion polished off the gazelle and returned to their greatly favored activity of sleeping motionlessly in the sun.
The excitement was understandable. What makes a more envy-inducing picture to torment the folks at home with – the King of the Jungle, their chins dripping with blood gnawing on gazelle innards with their razor-sharp teeth? Or an unconscious lion stretched out full length on the ground with their eyes closed?
It’s “No Contest”, right? So you drive like the wind to arrive there before “Nap Time.”
Once you get there, what you encounter is a single lion, surrounded by a rapidly growing congregation of minivans, their occupants, standing in the hinged opening below the vehicle’s raised roof, clicking away, as the lion voraciously devours their not-fast-enough prey, demonstrating a carniverosity The Lion King sanitarily labeled, “The Circle of Life.”
What was it a couple of nights ago that analogistically reminded me of that?
Two days ago, October 15, was the Magnificent Mr. Milo-Boy’s second birthday. As you might recall, I posted a commemorative picture on my blog (the picture e-mailed to me by Mommie Rachel), an accomplishment – the transferring of a photograph from my e-mail to my blog – I had successfully pulled off for the first time ever, without any idea of how I did it. (And no more than an even chance of repeating the maneuver in the future.)
That evening, along with other family members, I was invited over for dinner and birthday cake, along with the traditional “Happy Birthday” song sing-along.
Presents were opened and ecstatically appreciated. Milo literally jumped up and down as the substantial stack of gifts were being unwrapped, seemingly appreciating the mere idea of presents, especially if they were for him, as he apparently understood that they were.
(That’s another thing about little kids. Similar to my ability to understand more Yiddish than I can speak, pre-verbal children seem to comprehend considerably more concepts than they can articulate. Leading me to wonder how much they actually know. Do you think they know everything?
“I understand the ‘Theory of Relativity.’ Unfortunately, I can only articulate eleven words and sadly none of them are pertinent to that concept.”)
It is now time for the birthday cake, Mommie Rachel producing an appropriately inscribed, icing-generous confection, its center penetrated by a large waxed “2” with a protruding wick on the top.
The candle is lit, and we are about to sing – the “we” being, Milo’s father and mother, representative grandparents (comprised of three groupings, Mommie Rachel being the daughter of divorce) and a wonderful aunt named Anna.
The thing is, after a collectively sung “Happy” and the first syllable of “birthday”, Milo, prematurely, from a traditional standpoint, blew out the candle.
A gust from Milo. And the orange flame flickers helplessly into oblivion.
The candle was subsequently relit, and we started again.
Milo blew out the candle before the first
Patiently, Mommie Rachel explained to Milo that he needed to wait until we finished the entire song before he blew out the candle. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the toddler’s comprehension impeccably duplicated his verbal skills.
And he blew it out the third time as well.
The analogy with the Kenyan lion feasting?
There were six camera-phones encircling the “Birthday Boy” (as the safariists had encircled the lion), recording this hilarious episode of premature candle-blowing for posterity. (The single exception was myself, who owns not a camera-phone but archaic flip-phone, with a contractual “Shouting Distance” range. Any call further than a shouting voice can reach triggers an immediate “Roaming Charge.”)
It seemed an ironic juxtaposition, his family earnestly instructing Baby Milo not to do something while immortalizing his antics on their camera-phones when he continued repeatedly to do it.
Finally, on the fourth try, baby Milo acceded, blowing out the candle after we had completed the song. (Though I am less than certain he comprehended the distinction.)
No matter. The “Milestone Moment” had been memorialized for the Ages. On half-a-dozen different devices. As I mentioned, I was the glaring exception to the familial “Photo Shoot.”
Immortalizing the occasion instead