I thought I would put this up as it's the first thing I've done in a while.
It was one of those special moments, a true piece of child wisdom.
‘It’s Just a Ride’
A while ago I was driving home from a playground after a day with the kids. My one-year-old daughter was thankfully asleep whilst my nearly-four-year old son was rattling on about diggers and tractors as usual. It was about three in the afternoon, and my brain just about was pickled from the endless demands of the pair of them. After a brief interlude in the digger versus tractor debate, one in which I hoped he was also going to sleep, he piped up again.
“Daddy?” he said. “Is the Earth spinning now?”
“Yes,” I told him, “the Earth is always spinning.”
The source of this question dated back a couple of days when I was reading a book to him at bedtime about how we get our seasons. At the time he didn’t seem all that interested and I wasn’t sure he had taken any of it in, but his sponge-like brain must have been mulling it over. I thought I had better elaborate on the subject.
“If the Earth stopped spinning we would all fall off.”
I could see by his face in the rear view mirror that he found this idea amusing. I could almost see the wheels turning in his mind. He thought about it for some time before forming another question.
“Daddy, when I die will the Earth still be spinning?”
This sudden mention of death took me by surprise. Recently we had broached the subject when our next door neighbour’s dog, Charlie, was put down by the vet. He had grown up with Charlie so we had taken him in a few hours before to say goodbye, and although he seemed sad he hadn’t asked many questions about it, although he had told us later that his imaginary friend, Doobeedore, had died but that he was alright now.
“Yes, the earth will still be spinning when you die,” I told him.
A short pause this time.
“That’s good,” he announced. “Someone else can have a go.”
I laughed, but it was laughter that came close to tears. What a beautifully simple way to view the world, I thought, as if it was some giant playground. I secretly hoped that through all the swings and roundabouts of life he would always see it this way. It reminded me of something the late comedian, Bill Hicks, used to say at the end of his routine.
“It’s just a ride,” he would say. “Just a ride.”
“That’s a really great way to look at the world,” I said to my son.
“What?” It had already gone from his mind. He was straining in his seat to get a better look out of the window.
“Look Daddy! A combine harvester!”