Sunday, June 2, 2019 • Essays
A Letter to My Future Daughter on Her Graduation Day
Today people will say, welcome to Real Life. Smile and nod and thank them, and know your journey began a long time ago and your life begins anew in every moment. For your age determines not your wisdom, and already you have the wisdom of a lifetime. You have enough for today. Your life will give you the rest.
You will always be where you’re meant to be. If you’re meant to go one direction, one of a thousand things will happen to move you there. And if one of a thousand things doesn’t happen, have faith you were never meant to go.
You will suffer. You will dread the loss of treasured things. You will lose what was thought vital. You will become entangled in grief unavoidable and feel shredded and beaten and poor and you will curse this world for its aches. We all go this way; we are fallible in our fears. And in your release of these things you will learn the most tremendous wisdom. Fall into your truth like a billion stars racing from heaven to earth, and in all that blackness, with tears on your chin, you will touch the tabernacle. You will see what was always there, for change is an always thing and what is real will persevere, which is you, little one. You and your big heart dazzling.
Your mother and I, your family, the friends you have met and others that you will, when you doubt and when you stumble, when you feel lost upon your road, we will embrace you. This is the human spirit; it is a hug. So we might stand tall in grace, or bow low in humility; we go together. We are there, little one. We shall keep a candle burning for you.
If on your belly, kiss the earth. If on your knees, pet a scruffy dog. If on your haunches, make a funny face at a child. And if on your feet, reach down and lift up the less fortunate. Strive toward compassion and bless neighboring souls. Thank those who helped you. Thank your enemies for their lessons. Forgive humanity for our imperfections and our unknowing reach for happiness in our unique and often terrible ways. And forgive yourself, little one. There is a mirror awaiting your smile.
You are the warrior of your own epic, a tale worth telling. Rewrite old quotes, take your own photographs and be brave in your differences. Create your own kingdom. Build bridges not walls and stand beyond the gates. Go to battle with your dragons in far-off lands. Rise up, anchor your determined foot beneath the shifting sands and throw your open fist at the sky! Burn in the sunlight and scream un-tellable words off the cliffs until you reverberate in the echoes of self and all is fire within. Dance in the drumbeats of your heart and be glad at its tenderness. Be vulnerable. It is a soft thing we carry, but it is strong and you shall believe in its strength. You are mighty, little one.
You are beautiful. You are the best of you, and your mother and I watch proudly and stand amazed. You are the great teacher in my life. I sing to your music and skip to your song. You are my choir. You have inspired me to be a better father, a better partner to your mother, a better friend to my friends, a better friend to my foes, a better man. Thank you for your questions, your example, and your laughter and your joy.
We love you, and on this day and all other days, we love you. You go with courage today, little one. You go with love. And it is your love.