I spent most of my life being bounced around by conditions. I was bounced around by whether girls liked me or not, by rejection and acceptance letters, by my bank account, politics, sports, the weather. There are a lot of conditions and each one, it seemed, had the potential to make or break my day. And sometimes I made up the conditions. I would lie in my bed at night imagining a future where a trail of failure and bad luck led me to a wasteland from which there was no return.
About the time Sawyer came along and began to be observed and tested I started wondering if it had ever been the conditions that bounced me around. To see your son being observed can be a disorienting experience. As his father, my job had been to love him. Within love there is no right and wrong; there is only love. But I knew the experts observing him were noting what he had done right and what he done wrong on their little clipboards.
I did not like all this note taking they were doing, but was this not how the world worked? Was there not right and wrong all about me, and had I not lived my life naming this thing right and that thing wrong? Why should my little boy be spared the knife of good and bad? Because I loved him? How irresponsible to let a thing like love blind me to all that was wrong and prevent me from fixing it.
Fortunately, children teach adults far more than adults teach children. In his own way, Sawyer – like every child with every parent – asked me every day, “Which do you believe in more: Love, or right and wrong?” There was only one answer, of course, but oh how terrifying it seemed sometimes. How am I to protect myself from what is wrong unless I name it? How am I to stay safe from my enemies if I do not recognize them?
Sometimes choosing to love unconditionally feels like the last choice I’ll ever make. It as if I am lowering my shield, and only in that vulnerable moment will I learn the truth about the world. As soon as I lower it, however, I realize I would choose death over lugging that heavy shield about. I did not come here just to spend my days dodging and parrying blows. If life is not love then let it end, and if it is then let it be the only eyes through I see the world.