A Child’s View of the Universe

by tobias crabtree

It’s great. Lately, I get to hang with Cannon. He’s three and a few. He already holds sturdy opinions, albeit mostly about food and dinosaurs and poop. I love asking him questions. When he has the patience, which is difficult to have when you’re 3, he’ll give me the kind of stuff that I love to write down. You know, I mean kids are ridiculously awake! Kids are a swirling new universe of forming planets and streaking comets. As an observer —  perhaps this it the only way I might get by with calling myself a cosmologist — one might see the beginnings of solar systems forming in the eyes of a 3 year old mind after being asked just the right kind of question. Oh I try! I pay close attention to them. Most questions don’t make the cut, but every now and then I’ll nail it. It reminds me of stream fishing for tiny cutthroat trout way up in the backwoods of Colorado.

It’s similar because you gotta love it to do it in the first place. You know the day will include meadows and wet feet and aspens and cold mornings and bug bites and deep, crystal pools with pine root tangles and scratches and lost sunglasses and massive afternoon thunderstorms and tired legs and sunburned ears and little white fluttering cabbage butterflies and mossy stones and slippery logs and the impossibly beautiful, dot-bodied trout that wimple between dreams and reality. And it is the treasure just to see them and hold them for a second. If for no other reason, that and only that. 

So, if you’re willing to wait and try, sometimes you’ll get a real gem from one of these little people. Right now, Cannon is very interested in eggs. He realizes that they hold early life. He likes to know which animals lay them and why. We looked up a platypus and he studied it closely, he was very satisfied to know that they lay eggs. He also is intrigued by blood. I don’t blame him, blood is strange. Inner rivers that rush out from our heart with the power of healing and reviving. A specific kind of red that tastes of elements. It’s like the ocean. It’s like milk. It can leak out and we can make more out of water.  We can’t just exchange it, not necessarily, we must check the type. If we are sick, our blood tells the story. Blood is magic. So yeah, I get it. No wonder he points at scabs and talks with passion about tiny wounds.

I asked Cannon if he knew about his heart. He just looked at me like he does. I said, “you have one, where is it?” He looked down at his hands and put them together like he was cupping water, then he kind of opened them and spread his fingers. He was thinking and looking down and thinking some more. He looked up at me and with a little question on his face, pointed at the center of his tummy. I love it. I smiled and nodded and asked if I had one too. He pointed at my chest and told me for sure it was in there. I told him to take a listen and I pulled him close. I watched him hear my heart and I watched him understand. Planets forming, streaking comets, distant stars and hydrogen flashes. He pulled back and pointed again at my chest. No words. I nodded. He pointed to his mama, Summer, in the kitchen. “Her heart?” I nodded. And then he put his finger on his chest and looked down. There he was, thinking inward and outward, a wild and perfect mind in the world of his origin.

Heartbeats continue to happen in my chest. My heart’s been down the road for a while now. The children I know are running around with their tiny hearts clicking and whirring. I don’t need any more reasons than that to want to grow old. I wanna keep watching and laughing. I wanna ask the questions and watch the eyes of the kids as they gleam with the light from wherever it is that they came.