As you prepare to begin a new school year (after a long summer of fun and friends and sleeping in!), I’d like to go over a few things.
Some of these things we’ve talked about many times before, and I’m sure you’re already rolling your eyes. But hear me out and let me do my job as your mom. Thank you.
First, remember to be welcoming and inclusive. You know firsthand what it feels like to be rejected, new, and alone, and it remains your duty to help reduce these feelings in others. Remember to only tell or share jokes that everyone will think are funny. Keep your pencil sharp and your calculator nearby.
And remember that you — and your entire generation — are here on this planet to shine a light and clear space for justice, dignity, and peaceful living for all. To that end, keep standing up against bullies, racism, sexism, and any other injustice you come across. You’ll sometimes get a target on your back for this, but you’ll sleep better at night knowing you’ve done the right thing.
And of course, remember to always remain respectful, thoughtful, and filled with curiosity and a love of learning. Those are the basics.
Now, a few words about the hard knocks you’ve encountered lately. You’ve surely discovered that people don’t always keep their word, that life is rarely fair, and that political decisions are not just made in political environments. I’m sorry you had to experience these things, but from a higher perspective, I’m so very glad that you did.
Lessons abound within these experiences, lessons about the volatility of human nature, as well as the imperfections, implicit biases, and blind spots within all of us. When you’re ready, we can now have an entire conversation around the concept and question of fairness itself and whether or not it exists beyond fairy tales.
Until then, I recognize and understand that the pain and sense of betrayal remain in your body and mind. It’s okay, dear daughter, you mustn’t force this process of healing. Keep attending to these painful feelings inside you to keep them loose and granular until they are finally ready to be released for good. Whatever you do, do not let them bind together into bitterness within you.
Word of warning: if you want to know what bound bitterness looks like in the long run, just people-watch adults for an hour or so. You will quickly see that way too many of us — once young, enthusiastic, and positive just like you — have walled-off segments of our hearts, probably due to an experience not unlike your own.
Some of us have allowed bitterness, suspicion, and pessimism to line our faces and lace our words. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I had to work like crazy to melt that sh*t down — (no, I don’t really care if you now want to use the S-word occasionally, but let’s stop there, okay?) — and drain it from my body. Stand your ground and refuse to let this hardening happen to you.
But most of all, what I want to tell you today is the critical importance of managing your creative and passionate inner fire, which feeds your intelligence, your imagination, your heart energy, passion, and love of life.
Here are the facts. If fed regularly, your fire will burn steadily and bring you a lifetime of magic and joy. If neglected, it could lead to a life of coldness and lifelessness. If abused, it can turn on you. You’ve already experienced how your fire, when not minded well, can distort your discernment. You’ve been in the, shall we say, hot seat for this.
You’ve already seen that your fire can illuminate and clarify your life, or it can blind you from seeing its beauty. It can provide warmth and comfort to others, or it can stir up fear and conflict. It can bring people together like a campfire or it can, like a forest fire, force them to run away.
Dear daughter, your fire is one of the brightest and hottest fires I’ve ever seen. It’s been that way since the moment you came into this world — you, instantly ready to begin your soul’s purpose, (which remains to be seen) but stuck in a body a little too small to hold it all. That’s how I always understood the message of your colic, anyway. We have, as parents, sometimes had to calm some of your fire, simply to keep you and everyone around you safe.
But now you’re growing — nearly an adult! — and you can take over the tending and growing of the bright fire that burns within you. Know that like any fire in the real world, your inner fire requires daily tending and tender care to remain pure and steady. Not only must you tend regularly to your fire, you must also learn how to protect it.
Realize that some people will be frightened by it (and that’s usually because their own creative fire has gone out). Others may covet it. A few might tell you that they will keep it burning for you, safe and sound, if you’d only hand over the rights. Someday I will tell you about the bosses, co-workers, and partners who have attempted to divert my fire for purposes I didn’t believe in. How hard it was to tell them no. How I’m so glad I eventually did.
Some people might suggest that you limit or even put out your fire. They will explain that it’s dangerous to be so bright in this world and that you might burn yourself. Especially as a girl. Especially as a young girl. Especially as a young, passionate, driven girl. Actually, dear daughter, they are correct about getting burned.
It will hurt to let your heart and soul remain so easily seen and felt by others. But that is nothing, nothing at all, compared to the pain of extinguishing yourself. I’ve been there and done that, too, and I can promise you that living in alignment with your heart and soul does not hurt less than living in alignment with society’s expectations and norms — but at least the former will keep you motivated and energized. Besides, if there’s one thing I know about your soul’s purpose, it is to upend hierarchies, not uphold them.
I know you’re ready. You are still young, but by now you’ve seen many different faces of the human being and yet you are not hardened against them. You’re no longer innocently naïve, and yet you are not rigid with dogma and belief. You remain pliable, hopeful, and mindful — a balanced set of qualities. So don’t believe anyone who says you are “just a kid,” for you (and your entire generation, I believe) are this world’s greatest inspiration for all of us to rekindle our own wild and radiant inner fires.
Now go, dear daughter, inspire us all and fly through this world like the bright comet you are. I, for one, will be watching with awe.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.
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