Family and Relationships
How do you know when it’s time to take your autistic, bipolar twelve-year-old daughter to the psych ward? (They call them “behavioral units” now.) Is it when you find yourself sitting on her back and holding her arms to the ground while your wife lies on her legs? When she head-butts you the first time? The fifth? When she spits in your face?
The quad of Abbot Academy overlooked a scenic pond, surrounded by red oaks and white pines, where one might imagine the boys pensively rowing at dawn across the misty waters. On the other side were a dozen charming, weathered buildings — the classrooms and dorms, which were more like houses. No one even called them dorms. They used the word home, as in “Do you want to go home after lunch?” A portion of a barn could be seen in the near distance, as well as a corral for the horses, since the type of preadolescent boys who attended Abbot were thought to thrive if given the opportunity to care for large mammals.
Tell me how to do it, Father. All of it, I mean. How to be a better fisherman, a better man, a better being on the earth. How to say a grateful prayer for the silver fish given, how to open my two hands and let go of whatever darkness I have gathered.
For most of history it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love and then focus all their sexual, intimate, and altruistic desires on the resulting marriage.
The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.
— Henry Beston
You have faith you’re alive, no? You have faith you’re sitting here having a conversation with me. That I’m listening to you. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you believe none of this is real. Maybe you believe in nothing but an endless void. But that’s still a kind of faith.
The boy did for the fisherman the greatest thing that can be done. He may have been too young for perfect terror, but he was old enough to know there were things beyond the power of any man. All he could do he did, by trusting his father to do all he could, and asking nothing more.