Daniel has Graduated



Dear Friends and Family

Today was the culmination of childhood for my firstborn son. The journey that began eighteen long years ago when he was laid into my arms has reached another its terminus. On his coming journey, he will sail alone into ports that will hold all the good and evil, pain and joy that the world can offer, and it will be his call whether or not he can find safe harbor.

We came back from an afternoon of graduation, and a small celebration with friends, and I took off my dress and found the wad of tissues I had stuffed into my bra, “just in case”, still waiting for the tears that never came. I was so unsure how this passage would move me, and didn’t want to be without should the need arise. Testimonial time. No problem with sadness, right now at least.

What a surprise – I feel absolutely terrific. Not melancholy over the childhood past, but exhilarated over the adulthood future – what a lucky man he is! He goes into his life with skills and thoughts and humor and dreams and love – how many of us can say that? I am so proud to be able to share with him so many parts of his life – he is indeed a remarkable young man. The speeches at the graduation were wonderful – another surprise – and meaningful. They really made the day a celebration rather than a funeral. So often the case for these moments of transition.

The talk went on and the day was, for the most part, generous. The overcast skies and general drippy skies which had intermittently promised rain for the outdoor graduation only finally succumbed during the second half of diploma presentations – not so bad. We had fortunately succeeded in finding a group of chairs located under a large overhang. Of course, I was out on the edge of the balcony taking candids, so it didn’t matter to me. The general mood was euphoric. The kids themselves are fabulous – I think the future will be okay, if they are any indication. A terrific group of thinking and caring individuals with enough ideas to fill the 21st century with wonderful new ideas and inventions.

And as I stood on the balcony, in between the gaggle of juniors who had come to preview their life and say goodbye to friends, I was reminded of the words of Kahlil Gibran, And I remembered so very many times that have brought us to the present time. And I was reminded of how hard I had tried to make evaluations and overall concepts when he was a tiny thing, so that I would have something to refer to, over time, to see where I stood. Some sort of landmark to gauge the importance of events.

I thought then that the very most important thing was to raise an independent individual. One who was not afraid of anything, and yet had common sense enough to know their own limitations. Me and my crazy ideas, I thought about what the journey was like, and I imagined it like so:

So I thought about how a child has this insatiable need to walk wherever there is a little wall or curb. You know how they always run to walk the length of any raised surface? So I thought about childhood like that wall. A wall that starts off, at birth, as a sidewalk, where you walk and you carry the child. But soon a little curb starts and you put the child down and hold their hand and they begin to walk on their own little path.

So you walk next to them, one parent on each side of this wall-curb that keeps growing taller, and soon they don’t want you to hold their hand anymore. And they keep walking, and you keep on beside them, to make sure that you are there to break their fall, should they lose their balance. Catching them, you can put them back up and let them continue to walk on their own anyway. The wall keeps getting taller, but they keep gaining proficiency, so you can relax your guard and not pay such close attention. The reason being that when you get to the end of that wall (today we reached it, I think), they have had lots and lots of practice and know how to steady themselves should the need arise.

This in direct contrast to my own experience, where I felt that there was a sudden change where there was no one to guide you, after you had not been even given the chance to make a mistake or two along the way. It surely made the transition tough and the world seem such a large and cold place. I think its better to have a chance to practice so you have some idea what you’re doing. At any rate, that is a short summary of the goings on in my brain today.

But I did want to share with you the reading from the Prophet, a book I loved so very very much.

I love the piece on children, and so I want to include it here for you, in case you haven’t read it in a long time, or never had the chance to read it.
I include it here:

On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”

And he said:

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 like you. 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.

I am glad today. New experiences await us all. What an exciting time of life this is.

Love to all of you.