August 25, 2007

The Alchemy of Oatmeal

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to camp out in the open under starry skies you know that if you stare up long enough and get yourself into the right frame of mind you can see the stars slowly rotating through bowl of the sky. If you happen to be near a mountain the little dots of light blink out as they pass behind the silhouette. I am always overcome with the hard to resolve simultaneous feelings of slowness and extreme speed. Some geeky part of me knows the earth is spinning at almost 1000mph and barreling around the sun at 67,000mph and yet you almost have to slow your heartbeat down to experience that nightly show starry transcendence. Look away for a second and the sky stills, the show ends, your brain readjusts to a normal recording speed and it takes a long time to find your groove again.

A few have asked what life with 2 kids is like now that we’re almost 6 months down the road and the first thing that comes to mind is that same sense of paradox: of speed and of slowness. Our baby Gabriel sometimes demands to be held in the middle of the night. So we will spend an hour, two hours rocking him while he ever so slowly falls back into sleep. Time stops. It is almost possible to believe the world is all still and yet.... overnight he grows, literally. He’ll fall asleep fitting his pajamas, he'll wake up and we'll find they are too small. Fingernails must be cut every few days. Pictures from a month ago are almost unfamiliar.

Our other child, a 2 1/2 year old might spend an hour preparing his oatmeal—picking exactly the right blueberries to add, carefully spooning in brown sugar and a single icecube. It is a s l o w process. And then he’ll put his head on the table looking deeply into his bowl and say that the milk is the ocean and the oat grains are like the land—a first metaphor, a leap of imagination he couldn’t have made a few weeks ago. The terrible twos for all their whininess and tantrums are also a time of staggering sweetness. You’ll be sitting there sleepily, grumpily accompanying the daily oatmeal extravaganza when apropos of nothing you’ll get a heartfelt hug, "I love you daddy. I love mommy too. Daddy, Mommy, Gabriel," and then it’s back to eating the oatmeal. "I love oatmeal! All done. I dump it out?" And as much as you enjoy the moment you know it will pass quickly, the baggage of life will accumulate. Things will not be spoken. You see yourself and your own father and your father with his father. You see the little boy next to you chattering away and can’t believe he was was once like the infant in your arms. You try not to be distracted and look away too much because you know it can take a long time to find your way back.

posted at 04:22 AM by raul

Filed under: night musings

TAGS: life speeds by (3) oatmeal (1) stars (3) time (25)


08/25/07 01:14 PM

I love your view of the world. I can relate so much with your descriptions of slowing down and noticing all those fleeting moments. I find it's a feeling that isn't all too commonly felt with the busyness of everyday life. As I'm working through my last year of university it feels as if the entire world is urging me forward to quicken the pace and network with people, get a job, feed the economy, change the world. The sunrises and blooming flowers only exist in black and white at the back of my mind.

08/25/07 08:46 PM

Oh, to live in your head for a few moments. There should be a "Being Raul Gutierrez" portal. Thanks for sharing these outward glimpses with the world with such crystal clear and evocative words.

08/25/07 11:07 PM

You write so beautifully. I often feel you put words to things I feel deeply but would never be able express on paper. I can't tell you how many times I've woken up at night and have browsed your site for inspiration. I don't know what motivates you to write your thoughts from time to time, but know that people like me, a 27 year old artist in Tacoma Washington, who is sitting out on the porch under an apple tree on a cool and windy Saturday night , are often moved to tears.

08/26/07 06:43 AM

boring! more photography please.

01/16/08 09:07 PM

I intended to leave a comment for Obsequies for 2007. I loved that post. Then the word "oatmeal"" caught my eye. We eat a lot of oatmeal around here. And now i am sobbing. Literally. My oldest will turn 13 next week. Her sister is 9. How did that happen? They still eat oatmeal with brown sugar, and usually some kind of berry. The conversation is different, and things are no longer slow. There is a rush for the school bus. And then it's just me. They come home at 3:00 full of stories and the chaos starts over again.
Thank you for reminding me of what it was like when they were little. Beautiful piece.

06/29/09 06:24 PM


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