It was my daughter’s birthday today, and remains my daughter’s birthday in some parts of the world. A decade ago at 4am, my waters broke; she appeared fifteen or so hours later, a long and slender baby with a head the colour and shape of a grapefruit and a Dr. Seuss curl on the crown.
Then ignorant of so many aspects of the birth experience, I had not made the right decisions. My experience of labour was, as a result, traumatic – nothing extreme: no organs were punctured (this happened to two girlfriends who selected c-sections); my child did not sustain brain damage because of medical incompetence; I was not rendered incontinent – but it was long and it was bloody and I lowed like a Texas longhorn because I was in pain and I was scared.
When I first heard my daughter’s voice, that golden thread, everything changed.
All the books I had read, and there were many, warned me that I would experience confusion or depression or disappointment or blankness or terror or boredom, but I did not. I experienced a transforming ecstasy, and this ecstasy did not dissipate as I had been warned that it would; it lasted and lasted and lasted and it lasts still, imperturbable and glorious and knocked from its chair only by exhaustion and even then, only for a matter of hours. For what is a child but an excuse to experience the most absurd love, the kind of love that revolutionises all the world?
I ask those who would dismiss this as hyperbole to consider the impact on our world of the absence of love in, say, Adolf Hitler’s life. The damage we see in those around us, the abuses of our environment: all are due to lack of love and the respect that love entails.
In every man’s life, love should always be the priority: the preservation of love, the ignition of love, the inspiring of love, the celebration of love. Everything else is an illusion.
Love came to me in the form of my daughter. After I turned her light out tonight, I asked her to come into the kitchen. She later told me that she had been frightened that she had done something wrong; my request was, she said, so unusual. When she entered the darkened room, she saw that which I photographed for you below. “And this,” I softly said, “is what I feel for you, have always felt for you and will always feel for you, even after my body has blown away.”
So today, on the tenth anniversary of that love, I wish you the same abundance. Thank you for being there. I hope that you, too, had a ridiculously lovely Christmas and if you didn’t, I wish this for you: over the coming months, may you not only be transformed by the love you feel, but may you be overwhelmed by it. Strip everything else back in preparation. Happy new year.