Recently, I sat through some cybernetic fireworks with a very unhappy relative, who flew at me with the intent to hurt me as much as possible (either that, or to try to relieve her own pain by lashing out; either way, no one had any fun). She wrote me a letter criticizing every aspect of my life, my marriage, my children, and my being. She wrote that my younger daughter had “the personality of a two-by-four.” God knows. This, of course, was her piece de resistance, the jab that was most carefully calculated to hurt me, because she knows I adore my daughter; and I suppose it did hurt me, but of course generally we get hurt more by an insult that contains a grain of truth, and the only one I could find in that one was that my daughter is, indeed, of a silent and clear nature. She does not suffer fools gladly, nor does she tell lies, but that is because she cannot see any reason to, and therefore has no time for such nonsense. A day or two ago, a dear friend, upon receiving a picture from me of my daughter with her first “real” haircut (renouncing her long-loved ‘warrior princess’ look), made the remark,
Oh, what an angelic face; and an expression that says, “I know that I know.”
Last night the wind blew hard, all night long. A Nor’easter that we generally only get the tail-end of, but all night we slept in the glory and unrelenting beauty of that inexorable storm, and awoke to hear it still rushing through the trees here in the country. My daughter came in for our usual morning visit, and we marveled at it, and noticing how the wind evoked that quality of purity, I told her what my friend had said (we had laughed at the “two-by-four” remark weeks before), and pointed out the subjectivity of observation. I thought about that nature of hers, of being clear all the way to the depths of her being. Many of my adult friends and I have spent much of our later years doing spiritual practices to regain that quality of angelic clarity we come fully equipped with, “trailing clouds of glory,” as Wordsworth says, brooking no denial, forces to be reckoned with, because we know no lies. I have always called this child my “little Buddha,” because she has never had much use for lies, although most of us are prone to being pulled under by their insidious tendrils as we grow and, in order to survive, accept their schooling which is intended to force us into the mold of “their” making, only later understanding what a toll they take…What is it that allows some children to retain their clarity and honesty and truth, while others go under early, pulled down by the world, by their peers, the advertisements they see that push them to believe other than their souls tell them, the public schools which undertake to force them into becoming “establishment” robots? Well, my dears, it is here that I have to blow my own horn, or rather that of all loving parents, because while I think this retaining of the soul’s beauty may be due to many things, I think it goes back to the love of that first caretaker for the soul, the parent or friend who looks at that child and is unable to see anything other than that child’s true being. So many of us have been raised by troubled parents who were only able to see their children as projections of themselves, of their own feelings of untruth, of inferiority and other lies told to children to control them: I think of the firm belief of parents of my own generation that “children were to be seen and not heard,” that they must be controlled, punished for “wrongdoing,” pushed to become a cog in the System; all creativity and originality slapped down, shouted over, pushed away…. because someone did such an excellent job of all that with the parent in question. And what is it that causes some of us, despite everything, to become one kind of parent…or the other? Is it nature….or nurture, in fact? That ancient argument: did we bring it with us, or were we ourselves formed in the crucible of lies that masquerades as reality? In the case of this “Child of Mine,” (remember that Carol King song?), I can only say that I give thanks every day that this quality soul came to live with us, and that we recognized her for who she was. She starts college in the Fall, and I believe she will be invincible.