It’s newborn baby time, and my first time as a grandmother. Truly remarkable experience being at the scene of a birth and not being the mom. I was able to watch from a little distance and be knocked out by the macro elements: this was a new human being arriving into our universe, and from the moment of birth, she — Olivia, was developing and changing. Her face shifted from smooshed grimace to serene open-eyed observation within an hour or so. She immediately nursed and made baby sounds and moved her head, tried to hold it up herself, and exhibited personality galore.
How can that be? How can someone descend the birth canal, or in this case, be pulled out through a cut in the abdomen, and look at first like some kind of messy internal organ attached by a long cord to the mother’s insides, and then within such a rapid amount of time become her own person. I guess she was already her own person in-utero, but to me this seems a miracle.
I have always been awestruck at the ability of the human body to heal and grow and transform. Yes, children are the most dramatic changers, but even someone with a section of colon removed at an older age can regrow enough colon to be able to eliminate waste in some uniquely creative way. Or we can be lying on the bathroom floor and puking our guts out and ten minutes later we are feeling ready to go on a long run. What is this thing we call body, and how does it regenerate, develop, grow teeth and lose them, grow hair and lose it, grow and lose nails, learn language, swimming, walking, running, flirting, moping, etc. You get the idea. It’s unreal, or maybe the word is surreal.
And art, how does it relate to this phenomenal reality? It observes, notes, writes, tells stories, and finally makes beauty out of any specific portion of this process, thus immortalizing the magic. I’m a fan of the body, of making art about the body, about aging, about change, about history and the repetitive nature of life and death. My granddaughter’s birth is the first paragraph, or maybe the first page, of the story of her life and integration with other lives, and with the earth, and our cosmos. She is a perfect specimen, a model of all that she represents. She is art. Every whimper and smile and sneeze and hiccup and the shape of her mouth and her eyes and her hands and her toes… all of it is beauty. It’s an honor to witness the grandeur and universal miracle of new life.