"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which
you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows
are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go
swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the
bow that is stable."
On the bookshelf in my studio apartment, scattered across the floor, on the chair by my bed are an assortment of books with titles like Overcoming Perfectionism, A Guide to Personal Happiness, Radical Honesty, BodyMind and Nourishing Destiny among many others. Coupled with the podcasts I subscribe to and the videos I watch, I could likely create a whole self-help library just by myself!
What's up with this quest for betterment? Why have I always coveted the company of those who are more intelligent than I am, more creative, more successful, more learned, more practice, more polished? Because I think there's somewhere to get to, a secret promised land not yet revealed to me, that if I could just be more perfect, then I would find everything I had ever wanted.
Ironically, I feel that I'm already living the life many people would love to have. Every time I meet anyone and they ask what I do, I tell them: "I'm a part-time travel writer, a marketing consultant, a yoga teacher, and a Reiki practitioner who's building a Karma Yoga program and writing a memoir."
Then, the customary response is: "O wow! That's a lot! And you get to go wherever you want, whenever you want? You can work from anywhere? That's amazing that you get to do what you love! How do I get into something like that?"
I feel that part of the reason that I seek external opinions about things, why I'm on this quest for perfection, is because I've been waiting for someone to give me permission to enjoy my life. It's as though, based on the way I grew up, I've been holding my breath this whole time — my life has become exponentially better each year that I'm alive, and yet, I feel that I haven't let myself exhale. I haven't run far enough away from my past. I haven't felt safe enough to let myself enjoy the here and now without anticipating when the other shoe will drop, when the bottom will fall out, when I'll start to trip up and fall backwards.
It's happened before, it can happen again. Or, can it?
Recently, I put up baby pictures of myself on my desk to remind myself why I'm writing my memoir. I'm doing this for all the little girls who were seeking help and protection, yet couldn't find it within their homes; it's for all the beautiful souls with suffering hearts who simply want to be loved unconditionally; it's for all the women who put their lives together in piecemeal bits and smiled courageously on the outside while barely holding it together on the inside.
If I had a daughter, if the Universe chooses to have me become a mother in this way, I would love her until my heart fills the galaxy with joy. I would tell her of why she is beautiful, regardless of what she looks like on the outside. I would celebrate her creativity in ideas and thoughts and dialogues. I would encourage her to believe that she can be everything and anything, and to remember to be mindful of everyone else in pursuit of these goals, so that the choices she makes are not just for her benefit, but for the greater good of all. I would teach her to see the space around her as full of possibility, full of goodness, full of support, and even in the midst of the challenges, to see these as learning opportunities to define her character, to test her moxie, to let her shine. I would tell her to respect and honor herself fully and that by doing so, she can become a beacon of inspiration for other women (and men) to do the same. I would tell her that in love, it's okay to be vulnerable and to give in sometimes and to compromise for the other person, but that it's important her partner also does the same with her. I would tell her that even if her heart gets broken, that I would be there to hold her and soothe her and then wipe her tears and put on a bright face and we would go for a walk and sit by the ocean with cups of hot cocoa and a blanket wrapping us closer together. I would tell her to never let anything externally or internally dim her light, because she is a divine being as we all are, and that this life is temporary, so let's make the most of it while we can. I would do my best not to always assert my opinion for the choices she made that I didn't agree with, but I would ensure she knows she could always come to me with anything. I would teach her how to give back, how to be genuinely grateful, because these are the qualities that make life richer, when we remember that we are all human, that we all want to feel safe, strong, content, that we all want to live with ease, that we all want to love and be loved in turn. I would show her how creating and sharing sacred space with someone is a uniquely beautiful gift, to be selective and discerning and protective and open in the moments that matter. I would remind her to love all the little moments, that these are often the best times in life, and that it doesn't take surmounting a mountain to make someone smile or to stir someone's soul. I would teach her that romance and reality go hand-in-hand, that money may not make the world go round, but that it is how our world operates, so to be smart about finances and have enough in the bank to develop a solid launching pad for rocket ship dreams. I would help her understand the meaning of independence and hard work, as well as to learn how to lean on friends and relax completely. I would tell her that sometimes, it's as though we are looking at a large black velvet cloth with ragged holes cut in in random places to let light shine through, and that even if we can't see the whole picture all at once in order to know how life is going to turn out, we can at least catch glimpses of the unfolding mystery. Spirituality is that fabric of believing, and I would encourage her to explore with all her senses what it means for her. I would encourage her to learn that the art of playing is as important as perseverance. And I would encourage her to dance with grace in nature, to embrace her own nature, so that she can feel connected to the wondrous workings of gaia, where intuition and all of life are intertwined. I would make sure she knows that she is safe and sacred.
I have so much love for a daughter I don't even know if I'll ever have that if I can feel this way about an unborn soul, I can learn how to feel this way for myself. By becoming a parent to the little girl within who I once was, perhaps one day, I can become a parent to another being in my full presence and potential and become the mother I wish I always had.
So, to start, I'll begin with a new understanding that I can give myself permission to live fully, to be happy, to be me. I give myself permission to exhale the past and inhale the present, to exhale worry about the future and inhale standing in my power now. I give myself permission to be fully engaged in my beautiful life. I give myself permission to believe that everything is better than okay and ever will be.
I give myself permission to breathe.
What would you tell your daughter or son? What life lessons have you experienced that you would like to share? How would you parent the little one within?