Zoë Landale

Writer & Indie Publisher

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Daughter (Part 3)

Good news, I say to the universe. Is that so much to ask? My favourite line from Fiddler on the Roof; “Would it upset some vast eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?” I throw out my assertion about good news to the universe the way a sailor pitches a coiled up bow rope to a person standing on the dock, Here, catch.

            Maybe the firs on the spines of the islands are the good news. Each shape is different; every one bristles distinct and lovely against the grey sky. Maybe the Glaucous-winged gull swooping beside the ferry is my wink from on high.

            I want things to start breaking for you, opening up.

Today at lunch, a friend was harrumphing about the insufferableness of Eckhart Tolle and New Age beliefs. “Speaking about the Law of Attraction,” I said, which we weren’t exactly. “I had a student last term …” I told my friend about the book presentation the charming student had made to the class about the Law of Attraction. “And you know what the really annoying thing was?”            

            “Tell me,” my friend said.

            I laughed so hard I choked on a bite of carrot in my salad. “By the end of term, this woman had manifested not one but two full-time jobs, glamorous and well-paid, and was doing both! She works as a music blogger and for Armani. She was in New York over Christmas, looking at the current collection.”

            My friend put down her toasted cheese sandwich. “That’s actually kind of disturbing.”

Hope is the currency of myth, of magic, of mothers. Hope is what I want for you, a measure of joy in getting up in the morning. I would settle for even crumbs of joy, a pleasure in the day about to unfold, a feeling that you have things to offer, that you can make a difference. But really, I’d prefer a whole toasted bagel of joy for you, not just crumbs. To be honest, and a mother. I don’t want a job at Armani for you nor one as a music blogger, but something that would engage your own skills, your intellect, your heart.

            Twenty-four years ago, you stood in our white kitchen in Ladner and chanted, “I’m a daughter of a daughter of a daughter…” while I chopped vegetables for soup. I kept thinking anytime now you’d stop, but whatever play you were gripped in had you tight and “I’m a daughter of a daughter,” went on past any reckoning of family history I had, seven generations in Canada, to England, to Ireland, to Scotland, to pre-literate society to Cro-Magnon history and the freaky terrifying thing was you were right: I was the daughter of a daughter and you were and my mother was. Every one of us couldn’t have been here otherwise. And you, at age five, chanted this truth like some miniature oracle until the hair on my neck stood on end.

            When you finished, finally, the silence in the kitchen rang the way a crystal bowl does when the person who has been circling the rim with a playing stick, stops.

Towards clarity, I tell myself. Life, the mechanical shaking of the ferry, the cold back nose of our new puppy surely all lead toward a space where we can stand unafraid defined by a kind of radiant clarity. If we insist on it. If we bend our thoughts and imaginations in this direction.

            And laugh, maybe. Never mind humans being defined as the tool-making animal: New Caledonian crows and Bearded Capuchin monkeys use meta-tools, tools that act on other tools. But surely humans are the only species absurd enough to reach out to the infinite and to inform it of our wants, to in effect hand over a shopping list.

Creek running into Shingle Bay