To My Beautiful Daughter,
You will be the hero of your own story. ..
Your best friend will be the hero of her story. Your teachers, coaches, boyfriends and rivals will all play the lead role in their own adventures too. We are heroes among heroes, all of us living out our call to adventure. That is the most brilliant and the most confusing part of life. Our villains aren’t always villainous, and while we might accept that there are dragons to slay, it’s harder to admit that once in a while we become someone else’s dragon (which doesn’t feel very heroic). At some point, wonderful as you are, you will love a worthy person or two who will not find it in their heart to love you back. How can the hero not be loved by all? If you are anything like your mother, you will occasionally rage at heaven for such injustices. Isn’t the journey hard enough?
The truth is that your heart will be broken. It will hurt like hell, you will swear never to do it again, but I hope you will. I am 41 years old, and I’m still capable of a broken heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My heart breakers have been some of my best teachers. That doesn’t mean they were all at their best. Some were wonderful but just not right, others were real shits. I’ve been lied to, fooled, had a man claim he was my friend only to leave right when I needed a friend the most. I spent a long time trying to discover why, until I realized that what matters is the lessons in myself they gave to me. I have been a fool for love. Astoundingly foolish. Silly. Obsessed. Shy. Frightened. Blind…but if I’d never been any of the above, I wouldn’t have discovered that I am also sexy, smart, funny…and abundantly willing to take a risk. I love a great adventure, and I will dust myself off (eventually) when I fall. Remember when you lose someone who was special to you that their leaving doesn’t mean they weren’t a gift. Remember that no quality can be special in someone else unless it was special to you first and foremost. Let them go and pray they find everything they are looking for.
You will break hearts too. You will be someone else’s lesson. There are times in my life when I have not been at my best. I’ve been wonderful but just not right, and I’ve been a real shit. At some point in your life, you have to take a look at that part of the journey as well. I have lied, and I have fooled, and I have left a man right when he needed a friend the most. Those were also lessons in myself.
All it takes is one look at you to realize how short I’ve fallen in my definition of love. It isn’t simply that I would give up my own life for you. At the end of the day, that’s as biological as it is spiritual in nature. The amazing and incomprehensible part is the unconditional gift you have given me. Yes, I know we fight, but I know I can be unreasonable, nutty, tired, a failure or a success, and you will still love me and count on me. Of all my gifts, that is the most rare and precious.
I won’t lie to you. This life, this growing up can be painful. Do you know what else hurt like hell? The day you were born. Opening a body up, stretching it to its extreme in order to birth a brand new person is unavoidably painful. I can’t think of anything more symbolic of every new stage in life. Our hardest and most painful days are the days we stretch and open. The natural process of a new creation. There is a moment in childbirth when a woman doubts her ability to make it to the end. That moment is called transition, and it is an age old sign that the last phase has come. A baby is about to be born. Those moments in life when you are sure you can’t do it anymore…wait, and remember that it is a sure sign that the miracle is about to happen. Trust me, it will be worth it.
Be the midwife to your own life. See your pain as your ability to create something beautiful and new and never seen before. Remember that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding dear. Life is a great adventure. Sometimes you have to fall in order to discover the path to the top. In love and life, take the risk and say what you mean. You don’t have to live with anyone else’s regrets but your own.
And always, above all else, always remember that this strange and wayward soul you picked as your mother loves you with all her heart.