Great swaths of silence engulfed our footsteps as we hiked to the top of Raspberry Peak.
My child does not chatter in nature, for that I am grateful. She is a ponderer and that is a gift.
A gift –
for the world will never be small in her heart or mind –
but also a burden –
for a world so deep and wide and real is filled with the pain from which joy is taken –
and so delivered.
We did speak some – about creation and how words come to be and the place of ancient trees and first paths taken. I told her I am cautious with my writing- in what I share with the world because I want to protect our stories and privacy and some of my writing might be too much. It is a selfish fear and a protective device to keep from challenging myself- I am aware. But she just looked at me and said I shouldn’t be cautious- I should put it out into the world and not worry about her. Yet I always will.
Later that night, we began watching 13 Reasons Why. It provoked some serious emotions and riled up the hurt of youth that silently rests in my skin. Those things you think you have gotten past- until a hidden scab is scratched.
What kids deal with today is, at the root, what we dealt with 30 years ago, but bullying today is often more sophisticated, subtle, and hits in ways that potentially damage on a level we did not experience. Kids are still developing and growing in high school, but the world comes at them faster, harder, and pushes them to Be Adult far before their emotional intelligence can comprehend what is transpiring. Hell, I am 45 and still working out how to navigate people and positions in the world. This living thing is not easy.
Bullying is and always will be scared and insecure people developing false situation and creating stories by omission of facts or allowing others to make negative assumptions about others. There is physical bullying as well- sexual and non-sexual intimidation. The pain and illusion of life is amplified with no greater contrast than in high school. Personally, I couldn’t do it- there were one or two people who made me so anxious and scared that I would be in tears nearly everyday. I look back now and wish I could have just told them to fuck off, but I was taught to “take the high road” and not make trouble. With that, however, I was also lucky enough to have a mom that didn’t believe in the system and allowed me to drop out of the pressure cooker that was high school. I home schooled- what is now called unschooling- and managed to start college at 17. I survived those years by avoiding the walk through fire. But at some point, everyone must walk through their fire- it can not be avoided. The fire is what turns us into the best or worst versions of ourselves.
My daughter is a very different person than I am. She has the same pondering nature, but has learned to navigate in ways I did not learn until recently. She has already experienced fires I never had to deal with and they have aided in the creation of a beautiful person. Her sense of independence is different than mine and I witness a security that I never felt- but perhaps my mother thought the same of me. Looking back to who you were is always different than someone, of the age you are looking back to, looking out from their present day. So to the children of the present day- I say:
Value being on the edges and pulling strings between groups rather than ever getting locked into a single social circle.
May your expectations always fall to the future.
These years are short and you will hold a greatness beyond now in so little time.
Find your quiet, find your voice, know that you are the only person you should ever fear disappointing.