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Want to change the world?

Want to Change the World

My world has changed. Three and half weeks ago I sat with my barely born daughter clutched to my chest and wept tears of joy, relief and awe at the gift that had somehow been delivered safely to our care. While my wife was in recovery I was led to a nursing room and directed to a chair under a heat lamp where I was told to wait until mother and child could be reunited.

And so I sat, dazed and amazed, with this little life force in my arms that was partly me and partly my wife and I supposed, partly something uniquely her. Two and half hours passed while I shushed and becalmed her. I cuddled her, snuggled her, and loved her. My tears flowed freely as months of fear and anxiety were released. My unspoken dread of losing her in utero was finally being expressed in a purge of quiet sobs, each cycle of tears reminding me of how high the stakes had felt. Each cycle allowing me the opportunity to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I am not a person of faith so I wasn’t thanking God but rather Life itself, or the universe, or my wife for carrying and nourishing her and keeping her safe on her journey to ‘the great outdoors’. One of the first things I saw that morning when I looked out the hospital window was the Australian flag, hoisted high and flapping in a strong breeze. So I thanked Australia too because it is the country which had given me both my wife and our daughter.

And between the thanks there was singing. My wife is training to be a music therapist and during the pregnancy she liked the idea of us each having a song that we would sing daily to the expanding belly so the baby could become accustomed to our voices. My wife’s song was an Aboriginal folk song that she had encountered on her music therapy travels, the melody of which had really appealed to her. I hummed and hawed for ages over my choice, considering several traditional Irish songs but ruling them out because of their tendency to have seventy-eight verses of miserable lyrics about either British occupation or lost love. In the end I plumped for Pure Imagination, a quirky and slightly elusive ballad from the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as sung by the inscrutable and compelling Gene Wilder. Choosing it was almost accidental, an afterthought query, a ‘what about…?’ moment. I found the melody difficult to grasp and had effectively abandoned it when my wife tired of my prevarication and insisted I sit down and sing it to her midriff. I started haltingly but the song gradually emerged and the tune was fully intact. And it felt right.

We recorded me singing it and my wife would then play it on her phone throughout the pregnancy when I wasn’t around to sing it in the flesh. But in the nursing room for those two and half hours as our baby girl nuzzled into my chest I sang it again and again and was fascinated to see her appear to respond with a slight tilt of her head (no finger clicks or harmonies) before settling down again.

The song opens with the invitation ‘Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination.’ It occurred me to how much a child of the imagination I had been, endlessly retreating into fantasy worlds of the mind, role playing and acting out with and without toys, with and without inspiration from books, TV, comics and movies. I also recalled how drawn I was as a little boy to two very distinctive red-haired funnymen – Gene Wilder and Danny Kaye. Perhaps it was my nascent performer’s ego and vanity that made me think I, a grinning redhead full of play and song and endless pratfalls and gurning, was not merely a kindred spirit but a direct descendant, ready to be the keeper of the flame. The comedy flame, the performance flame, the Walter Mitty flame. The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that the song had chosen me, not the other way around. Imagination is the gateway to possibility and I had no problem singing that to my daughter – also from the song – ‘there is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be’

I sang quietly and tremulously, not wanting to share the song with anyone but her and singing not as performance but as pure communication, as if asking “can you hear me? I’m singing to you. Can you feel me breathing with you? Can you hear me offering you my love, my care, my protection? Can you hear me asking you to share this life with me, with us?” As I sat and sang and wept and smiled a surreal delirium of joy and prophecy flitted across my brain as I saw her life unfolding from baby to little girl to adolescent to young woman to mother but always as daughter and I found myself overflowing with hopes and dreams for her happiness and safe passage through whatever life might put in her path. What follows is what I thought.

“I hope first and foremost that our love for you helps you find a way to love yourself. To love yourself compassionately, not egotistically. To value and approve of yourself as a good person, deserving of life’s opportunities and capable of facing its challenges.

I hope you get the best of us and don’t judge us too harshly for our frailties and blind spots. I hope we earn your trust and respect and that we are people you will be happy to come to for help but are unafraid to disagree with. I hope you will feel safe with us to express yourself honestly and fearlessly.

I hope you are untrammelled in ambition and self-belief but that will you have the resolution to face failure with honesty and dignity and recover with renewed appetite for growth so that your victories and successes will be all the sweeter.

I hope your compassion and empathy for the world you live in and the people around you is tempered by laughter and gaiety and dancing. If you are like me you will be a serious clown. If you are like your mother you will light up every room you walk into.

I hope you are a strong, independent woman who smacks down the merest hint of sexism and feels no need to submit to any dance dictated by archaic codes of patriarchal exclusivity. I hope you pursue a life that is tethered to your intellectual and emotional convictions. I hope you are fulfilled, satisfied and respected.

I will always think you are beautiful but I hope when you look at yourself that your own assessment of your beauty is not limited to the narrow confines of toxic popular media and photo-shopped, airbrushed paradigms of femininity. See health. See strength. See power. See self-worth. See you.

I hope we give you every chance to be the best you you can be. I hope we prove that we deserve you. I hope we make you proud of where you came from.

I hope love comes easily to you. The giving and receiving of it.

Be happy. Be safe. Be brilliant. Be loved. Be loved. Beloved, beautiful, baby girl. We love you.”

There are no certainties. No absolutes. Everything is unknown. All we can offer is hope and the possibility of happiness. We can place her hand on the door handle of life and quote Pure Imagination

‘if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.’

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suzie81
10 years ago

Absolutely beautiful! Congratulations to you both.

Bettina
Bettina
10 years ago

brought tears to my eyes, good luck on your journey of togetherness to all three of you!

suzie81
10 years ago

Reblogged this on suzie81's Blog and commented:
One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read… I implore you to check it out!!!

kelli
kelli
10 years ago

My Goodness Dara….i’m in tears….how IMMENSELY lucky she is to have yerself & C and how immensely lucky & blessed you both are to have her!!! An amazing adventure awaits the 3 of you….incredibly beautiful words D!!! MAGIC

rubytheblacklabrador
10 years ago

Lovely lovely. She will have a wonderful life with you two as parents 🙂

rubytheblacklabrador
Reply to  Dara Clear
10 years ago

Always look on the bright side:)

nickthiwerspoon
10 years ago

Reblogged this on Nick Thiwerspoon's Rumbles.

ashokbhatia
10 years ago

Very touching, indeed! Only the few gifted ones can achieve this depth of thought.

Caryna
Caryna
10 years ago

This is gorgeous. Just perfect.

Gemma Barry - Dubray Books
Gemma Barry - Dubray Books
10 years ago

Sitting here balling reading your post; such a beautiful piece of writing.
Gemma xx

Sent from my iPad

G
G
10 years ago

Oh .. beauty. Congrats.

G
G
Reply to  Dara Clear
10 years ago

Totally my Pleasure… such a sweet post…

BBKnyc
BBKnyc
10 years ago

Thanks, that’s just what I needed on a Sunday morning, a good cry.
😭🐣💝🍍

Elizabeth Cardenas
10 years ago

Congratulations to both of you. Just beautiful.

michaelgrennell
10 years ago

Beautifully expressed Dara.

ninamishkin
10 years ago

If only more new parents shared your feelings! Beautiful post, beautifully expressed. You have a lucky little daughter.

Marneymae
10 years ago

my goodness what a beautiful enormous gift of a wish for your daughter!
many congratulations
and thank you for sharing your wish for her with the blogville world
a wish multiplied, perhaps
blessings on your new journey as parent
wishing you and your family all good things

bublick123
10 years ago

A beautiful heartfelt and sincere post, all the best of luck over the years to come for all your family

jackiemallon
10 years ago

Congratulations! You had me at the bootees 🙂 Wishing you all only lovely things!

Dave N
Dave N
10 years ago

That is a great song. I saw the film again recently. It is magical. As is your special event, and the way you’ve so tenderly described it.

Matthew Paynter
Matthew Paynter
10 years ago

nice..

Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 07:40:16 +0000 To: matthewpaynter@hotmail.com

themanythoughts
10 years ago

Beautiful, a true, honest and awe inspiring perception of the love for a child from a males point of view, the fact you can express your love so openly, honestly and with a connection to the reader is a gift! I wish you all the luck and love in the world with your new little family, your daughter is a very lucky girl to have a parent like you!

Jamie-Leigh x x x

Loretta
Loretta
10 years ago

Tears here too! Really beautiful Dara.

trackback
10 years ago

[…] celebrate here in the UK), but yesterday I read an absolutely gorgeous post by Dara from The Clearout about the birth of his baby girl and it tipped me over the edge (in a literary sense – please […]

Tadhg Barrett
10 years ago

what beautiful writing and what a wonderful experience you are both embarked on. i wish you all strength and good luck. lots of love from Wisconsin and Tadhg

Prasad
10 years ago

Great work. I feel I am lucky to have run into your blog. Happy blogging. Thanks for inspiring with your write-ups.

Russell
Russell
10 years ago

Dara,

I too cried and I laughed in recognition at your account. You brought me right back to those first precious moments. Forces beyond our (Gene?!) wildest imaginings at play when a new body enters the world. Your brave and fierce open-heartedness has re-inspired and encouraged me to keep striving. Such a start you have given your daughter. Straight out of the traps. Holy cow! Will someone pinch me of please? Your words and your mind are such a gift to your family, and to me and mine as I read. Not an ounce of sentimentality. Rather, uncompromising, unchecked love.

Ps It’s clear to me that you’ve already given your child everything she will ever need that is not a nappy change or a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

May the force for good that you have channelled continue to sustain you and yours…(even in times of sleep deprivation) for good!

And rock on, all great historical musical films for children!

You washed me, cleaner
Please sir, can I have some more?
Thank you, divine poet

XRussell

Nic Strong
Nic Strong
10 years ago

Awesome choice in song, Dara! One of my all time favourite musical slash movies!!!

Again, a huge congrats to you both on the birth of your little one!

N :@)

Belle Hendrik
10 years ago

Thank you Dara – I cried my own tears reading this – congrats to you and Chiarra and baby girl xxxx hope to meet her one dayx

Natsuko Mineghishi
10 years ago

love the new happy face photo you are using as your icon, Dara. All very positive and encouraging for everyone around you! Miss you heaps from all of us! OSS, Natsuko

Rohan sauvage (Wilson)
Rohan sauvage (Wilson)
10 years ago

Dara
I came across this through Jenny keoghs Facebook. You really touched my heart and memories of my own childhood of freedom and imagination.
Hope all is going well for you in oz. I am living in New Zealand and have two little boys (3 and 17 months).
Your wish for your daughters future must be the wish of many parents, although I certainly do not possess the skill to find such beautiful words with which to express it. So thank you.
Rohan x

trackback
6 years ago

[…] How Not to Settle for Less. Others, on grief – How to Cry for Pain, and on becoming a father – How to Cry for Joy could be part of a series. A couple of posts on living abroad could be How to Know You’re […]

trackback
3 years ago

[…] our roof that was ours alone to nurture and sustain was intoxicating, earth-shaking, dam-bursting (I cried. Boy, did I cry!). The expected positives of the overload of intense parental love and desire to care and protect […]

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