Saturday, 28 February 2015

The atlas and the axis

My son has discovered the power of "no".

This is to say, he has discovered his top two vertebrae, the atlas and the axis, which allow him to shake the heck out of his head at will.

My son, are you hungry?

Vigorous head-shaking while simultaneously eating three cream cheese sandwiches. No.

No. This is not a photograph of an earthling. 

Glug. No.

Do you have fingers?




Are you human?

Exasperated look. No.


Whisker of doubt. Furrowed brow. Then...NO!

He shakes his head in his high chair. In his crib. He shakes his head vigorously as he crawls down the hallway.

He head-shakes with such gusto that his crawl has a sideways wobble to it.

He shakes his head rain or shine. He shakes it with joy and nary a hint of guilt. Sometimes he shakes so hard that he cracks himself up and goes giggling, wobbling, giggling, wobbling right down the hallway.

My son shakes the word rather than speaking it, but he knows what it means and he's not afraid to use it. My son doesn't know what is expected of him, nor does he care. He is free.

In human anatomy it is the atlas, the first cervical vertebra, that affords the ability to nod "yes". The second vertebra, the axis, is required to shake "no." Thus the world rests its heft and beauty upon "yes", but only fulfills its potential to spin upon "no".

It took me years to discover the power of "no". When I finally did, the floodgates opened and the sun broke through.

I like my son's attitude. I hope he holds onto it, because he's going to need it out there in that crazy beautiful world with all its heft and baggage.

"No" makes the world go around. "Yes" should be reserved for a select few people and situations.