I feel like the most famous paradox in Quantum Physics, Schroedinger’s Cat. Essentially, a cat as placed in a box with a radioactive atom. If a Geiger counter detects an alpha wave (showing that the atom is breaking down), a small vial of poison is released, killing the cat. Schroedinger postulated that as the atom had not yet decayed (and set off the poison), until the box was opened and observational evidence taken, the cat inside the box could be thought of as simultaneously alive and dead. It’s a wonderful brain teaser, the concept of duality in existence without any sort of cognitive dissidence. It has to be both, as it cannot be simply one or the other.
That’s how I feel when I hold my child. A 9 month old squirming ball of energy, with opinions and moods and the ability to give hugs and love and tell me when he is upset, he also exists in my mind as the newborn baby wrapped in blankets on my chest as I sat in my hospital bed. I look at him and see who he is and who he was, simultaneously. He was taking a nap yesterday, and as I checked in on him, I found him sleeping on his tummy, feet dangling beyond the crib’s slats, socks almost off. He looked so…grownup. I was struck by the moment, and wondered “Where has my baby gone, and who is this creature that has replaced him?”. I carefully turned him over, and tucked in his blankets around him. I’ve done that same motion, the tucking in of the blankets, a thousand times now. I’ve read the same bedtime book to him a few hundred times. I’ve wiped away countless tears, and looked at a color palate of stains on my clothes from various baby….fluids, and the ablutions following more times than I would like to count. I’ve gone from fearing about him not breathing, to fearing about him rolling into a pillow, to fearing him launching himself off of the couch, to fearing him opening cabinet doors and eating everything contained within.
He is yesterday. He is today. He is tomorrow. He is the man he will be when I am dead and gone. He is all of those things at once. He cannot be one or the other.
Life is a maddening box.