Second only to Springsteen, Solomon is my favorite existentialist.
Ecclesiastes has something for everyone–
60’s rock fans,
oppressors, toilers, the elderly, and the young and foolish. Usually, I find much meaning in all the talk of meaningless, but he stumped me the other day with Chapter Two:
[rough paraphrase] I, Solomon, built 5000 sq ft houses plural, assured myself an endless supply of drink by growing a vineyard, enjoyed male and female slaves, amassed wealth pointlessly, founded my own harem, and made people write songs about me. In all of this, my wisdom stayed with me.
Umm, no, it didn’t.
Okay, maybe it did.
I tend to think wisdom manifests itself in action–that you do not have wisdom unless you act wisely, but maybe instead, wisdom is like a dog. He sits on the couch and looks out windows, follows you around with a barely audible pant, thrives off table scraps, and, most importantly, finds his joie de vivre when you call his name to go for a walk. He stays with you even if you’re running harems.
This last week, Aaron and I have been amassing not wealth but sleeplessness as Clara very adamantly insists that she be nursed, rocked, or walked every half hour between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. While I told Aaron that I read all about how sleep philosophers say babies actually sleep better when husbands get out of bed instead of wives, wisdom was in the other room, chewing on a bone to keep quiet.
I’ll tell you what hurts: 3:00 a.m. and I’m still awake, and the baby’s still crying, and not only am I made depressingly aware that the night is lost but I truly do not know what to do. If I let the baby cry, then the baby is crying, and when I know all it takes to make it stop are my arms, this makes me sad and feel like a bad mom. Plus, her desparate, standing-in-the-corner-of-the-crib-closest-to-Mom-and-Dad’s-room wailing is shockingly loud. If I get up again, I know I’m doing what I do every night–what hasn’t worked so far.
But through all the amassing, Wisdom stayed with me, albeit in the other room with the other dogs and with his ears covered, so last night I called Wisdom in so we could have a little chat. He told me that people, including babies, need sleep even more than they need rocking chairs and that even one-year-olds can feel more than one feeling at once. So, last night at 11:00 when the crying started to wind up, I said, “Hey, Wisdom! Get in here” and we decided it would be best if Clara cried for a bit in her crib while I stood with her, rubbed her precious little baby back, and told her how much I love her. Then, the strangest thing–she stopped crying and not only fell asleep but stayed there for six hours. I was sure to give Wisdom a treat in the morning.
Below are pictures of Cuteness and me reading, refreshed after a good night’s sleep.