“Mother” Earth to Her Wayward Neotenous Teenager

I’ve been making more time to write, including “morning pages” from Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way. I’m practicing being open and seeing what comes. Not all of what comes belongs in public, and i’m not sure about this one, but here it is, only slightly edited from how it came to me during a writing retreat last fall.


“Mother” Earth to Her Wayward Neotenous Teenager

So many, many children I have birthed. Leafy, prickly, and succulent ones; sturdy and supple and wavy ones. Swimmers, crawlers, climbers, flyers… I watched them all grow, from the moment the first sparks entered my womb… so many of them, rooting, wriggling, hatching, sucking…

Most of them got along pretty well, for quite a while. So many ways of sharing my offerings. Sharing smoothly, with delight, generosity, reciprocity. Sharing begrudgingly, with caution and care. Or killing swiftly and respectfully, taking only what they needed and leaving the rest for others.

Each age was different… those who were big and spiny runners lived long and well, but didn’t make it through after I’d been Hit. All was dark for a while, and many of my children died. But in each new stage they found new ways.

And then one day, you came, with a whole new strategy. You came out half-baked — so you could finish your own crafting. Perhaps when I saw your giant head on your embryonic body, I should have known. Perhaps I should have held you back then, or let you die, in those early days, when you were so vulnerable. Why didn’t I? Well, you were, after all, my child… perhaps it was my own pride… or desire to be seen in a new way? Maybe I wanted to see what would happen, with that big, big mind of yours.

For a while it seemed good. Such beauty, such music, you made. I didn’t mind your early scratchings at my skin. You made your marks on my inner places, and I cherished these offerings, as parents do… but your desire to build grew and grew… you seemed insatiable. There were times that I couldn’t protect you from your relations, or from yourself. And there were times, I’ll admit, that I struck you in anger or in fear (what parent doesn’t lose it once in a while?)

So afraid, you were! You invented monsters in the deep. Inconsolable at times, you seemed unable to hear my crooning… I sent your flying siblings to sing for you, and breathed deeply so you could share my courage. Even our neighbors winked at you from their vast distances at night.

Alas, I could not tell you how to complete yourself. My other children just come into the world knowing how to be. You? You asked questions all the time. “How shall we be?” And “Why?” Your answers could be beautiful -so creative you are! – but sometimes not so workable. It seems your big brain and your complex song, your tunnels and towers can all steer you wrong. And alas, you forget that since you completed your own creation, you can change it.

Now instead of rooting, you are shooting. Shooting your brethren, shooting yourself, shooting up into the sky. Of course I love you, even when you are bad. Your badness is only a part of you, and it, too, is a part of me. Perhaps you’re searching for some absent parent, a father you imagine came and went… forgetting the always-present parent… taking for granted my offerings, the nourishment that fed your profusion.

Now, you are sharing no longer generously or cautiously, but in conflict…tearing my bounty into shreds and allotments. Fencing, enclosing, and hoarding me. Mining, undermining, and pulverizing me. Killing each other to own me. But can a child own its mother? No more than can a mother own its child.

And about your dad? At your best, you may think, “Well, he trusted her with my care, so maybe I should honor her, maybe she is enough.” And much of the time you feel you have to strive to reach him, and to be like him. But you only imagine him as a distant father who came and went. You think you were made in our image, so we must be like you.

Actually “he” has been here all along, for I am both your mother and your father, and, of course, neither. That spark of aliveness that entered my “womb” is not really “otherness.” The otherness of sex is just a convenient tool for creativity; a way of taking apart what is, so that we can put it back together in wholly new ways. You have become obsessed with that otherness. I tell you, it’s the creativity itself that is divine, and is how you were made in Our image.

Maybe when I first saw such strife I should have stopped you… but I thought, you were all about learning, with your big brain, and your grand ability to participate in your own creation… so, all you’d need was a few lessons… a flood should do it, I thought… or maybe some heavy salt… sometimes you seemed to get it, and things would be better for a while. Some parts of you retreated, found those inner places again, took shelter in me, and learned to master your Fear.

But the angels of your better nature do not seem to win too often. They say addictions are like that, relapses nearly inevitable. Now, we are at a crossroads. It is a bit like one every offspring comes to I suppose. You’re big. Too big for me to ground you with a little flood or famine. Too big for me to discipline effectively. And yet not grown to maturity, your addictions to building and growing and hoarding are running the show. I fear you will be the death of me, and all your brethren. Perhaps you’ll find too late that you needed me after all.

Even more than death, though, I fear that the monsters you imagined have become real. I fear too, that as I die, you will grow big enough to leave me. For myself I would not mourn this. After all, every parent wishes for her child to outlive her. But I do fear for the neighborhood. If you go abroad without mastering or healing your Fear – what monsters will you be, out there?

3 thoughts on ““Mother” Earth to Her Wayward Neotenous Teenager”

  1. Wonderful writing. I think a lot of our problems are due to “big brain” not necessarily being equivalent to “big mind.” Any more to say about that? Loved the idea that sex was separating and then recombining, which, of course, it is.

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