Earlier this week, we visited one of my favourite human beings. At almost 18 months old, he is a force to be reckoned with! He throws himself around a room, a sofa, a carpet (far too close to coffee table corners for my liking!), secure in the knowledge that there is always someone close enough to catch him if he tumbles too forcefully, or in a wrong direction. It’s lovely to see someone so precarious in their own personal space yet so secure in their own sense of safety from harm. I realise that this is a completely natural result of the current phase of his development, and that, over time, he will increase in his risk awareness. I don’t wish to expedite his process of sensing fear or danger – I just note that I envy his current lack of it.
As he is oblivious to the torments of gravity, fearless in his command of the space between where he finds himself and where he desires to be (usually in search of a toy or other magnet of his attention), I am, by contrast, becoming more and more aware of the perils of even the shortest of journeys; across a room, across a car park, down a crowded supermarket aisle. Every next move I make is carefully visualised, risk-assessed, a cost-benefit analysis performed to determine whether it is even worth the effort, or whether the trek could be deferred and combined with another move in the same direction later, creating a multiplicity of purpose that doubles the gain of every step. I realise how much I used to take for granted the act of just getting up and going somewhere – not even far, just to the other side of the room, upstairs, to the kitchen, and back again when I forgot what I went in for, to the shops, the school run, the park on a mild spring day…
Oddly I don’t now feel sad at the loss of this ease and liberty. If anything, it makes me just more appreciative of the days when I can move more freely. What I try not to do is to think ahead, to anticipate the ongoing decline of my mobility that has already begun and will most likely worsen. I rarely stop to dwell on this process of decline, and nor should I. But watching my little toddler friend yesterday made me consider it, albeit briefly. His trajectory towards improvements in movement is mirrored by my path towards degradations.
Yesterday we met in the middle, both wobbly, but both keen to keep moving in our own particular ways and, I suspect, both similarly and equally bruised!