local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2004


The tricks of time

Commentary by ADAM TANOUS

The other night, on his sixth birthday, my little boy was running around the yard with his buddy, Landon—both of them shirtless, barefoot, wild with the freedom of imagination. The scene suddenly seemed so familiar as to be a part of my memory. It felt as if decades had compressed into a single moment. Wasn’t I just there, in that skinny little body, my friend, Davo, at my side as we scurried about our own fantastical lives 38 years ago?

Parents are always telling other parents of younger children: "They grow up so fast. Before you know it, they’ll be gone, on their way."

It’s a cliché, but while it may be a dull turn of phrase, the heartache of that realization is no less profound. I sometimes see the experience of being a parent as analogous to sitting beside a clear, running creek. We spend all of those days and nights trying to cup the water in our hands—if only to shape it for a second, marvel at its clarity and subtle beauty, perhaps get a tiny sip of the sweet stuff—before it slips through our fingers and carries on to lower ground.

What’s curious about that common ache among parents is that it comes of our own conflicted feelings about growing up.

When children are new to the world—newborns, then infants and toddlers—our sense of time actually expands. Winter days with an infant seem to stretch out forever. Before long we are pushing them into the future. How often have parents led the refrain: "I can’t wait until he can sleep through the night. If only we could get him potty trained. I can’t wait until he can go to pre-school. Please, act like a ‘big boy.’ Stop acting like a baby. Grow up."

We’re guilty of this because we see all of these hurdles in front of our children. Perhaps because we love life so much, we want to hurry them up, get them past all of these hurdles so that they can taste life. We want them in the stream of things, feeling, thinking, laughing.

Why are we so frantic about it? Maybe it is as simple as we are always, deep down, afraid something bad might happen to them before their time in the sun. Fear lurks about and haunts parents. We fear accidents, bad influences, the unknown. It is fear born of love, but fear nonetheless. It drives us, and it drives us crazy.

So, when our children are suddenly out in the world, independent of us, we somehow can’t comprehend how it happened, though we made it happen and wanted it to happen. That was our goal, right? Were we not trying to give them life, a life that belongs to them, not us?

We were, and are. But somewhere in the back of us, there’s something holding us up. We can’t seem to be totally at peace with their moving on. And I suspect that unease has something to do with our own mortality.

In the most obvious way, children remind us that on the grand scheme, life is cyclical, akin to the shape of a sinuous river snaking across a wide plain. Where we leave off, they move on. And yet, as we witness their moving through the moments and milestones of life, it becomes clear that own lives are but part of the sinuous waterway that unfurls into a straight line. Parts and moments of our lives have gone by and aren’t coming back around again. This sense that there is finiteness to our experience gets a hold of our heart, dampens it for a time. Yet, we know but don’t want to admit that that finiteness brings the very intensity to life that makes it precious.

There is a passage in "The Sheltering Sky," by Paul Bowles, that far more eloquently expresses the central puzzle of our lives:

"Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. Any yet, it all seems limitless."


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.