This was the big weekend, you guys.
We’ve been planning this visit with unbridled glee. My new kids, coming from Canada to visit Portland!
Eek, I was so excited! Ms. Adventure was so excited! We were all so excited! Their flight was delayed, oh devastation! But then they finally arrived, oh joy!!!
Enter scene left: stomach virus.
Instead of the amazing Family Fun Day (the kids christened it thus) that we’d planned, we were all up at 2:30 in the morning and it was family but it was not fun.
As I stroked a beloved fevered brow, I kept thinking about my mother. How tenderly she used to stroke my cheek when I was sick. How gentle she was with us when we were sad, or broken, or scared. As I kissed a hot cheek, I marveled at how incredibly lucky I was to receive such boundless and beautiful familial love. I could feel it still alive in me, a rich gold elixir running through my veins.
What a priceless inheritance. My parents delivered me to adulthood filled up with deep reserves of nurture, care, and unconditional love.
I didn’t always appreciate what a rare gift it was.
I grew up knowing that I was utterly loved, no matter what, and I am sorry to say that I took it for granted. I figured it was normal. I thought that’s just how all parents loved their kids.
I don’t take it for granted any more. I’m thankful down to my toes.
When I can respond to a client with compassion, or I can listen tenderly to someone who’s feeling broken, I know that in a very real way I am simply pouring out what I was so freely given.
So– thanks, Mom and Dad.
Some things we simply receive.
We receive them from our parents, from our angels, from teachers and books and pets and our own DNA and some strange memory that we can’t quite recall but shows up like our own karmic lucky penny.
But some things we have to go out and find for ourselves.
This is true no matter how wonderful your parents, upbringing, or schooling was.
It will be true for my kids, Adventure, Danger, Epic, Wilde, and Mayhem. (Yep– did you know that Ms. Adventure is getting four new sibs?)
As parents, we will give them what we can. But more importantly, hopefully we can give them the chutzpah to go out and find for themselves the longings that are their own and the yearnings that we never saw.
Because that is what it means to be a grownup. We all have holes in us that need to be filled. Aspects that yearn to be seen. Dreams that long to take flight. And hurts that need to be healed. And being a grownup means taking responsibility for ourselves, even if we have great craggy crevices where we wish we had rolling hills.
Last night I thought about all the people I love who have performed a feat of magic that seems impossible. They are the ones who pour out things that they have never been given.
People who’ve been rejected, who become includers.
Those who were abused, but turn into protectors.
The ones who grew up empty, then fill up the world with their creations.
The abandoned and neglected kids who grow up to be mighty parents.
All those kindred spirits who have been hurt and who learn to be healers.
They are the magicians walking among us, you guys. They are working miracles of transformation inside themselves every single day. I put my forehead to the earth with respect and awe for them. And on my best days, I can be one of them, just like you can too.
We are so much more than the sum of our parts.
More than the sum of even our very best parts.
We each have an infinite capacity to create things that have never existed before in the world.
And I truly believe that there are teachers and helpers everywhere who want to help us with these new creations.
Last night, I kept hearing this one particular clarinet concerto in my head. Somehow its wise, loving sounds made me feel stronger, quieter, and more patient. That was a helper. Its melody is a current that exists in the world that makes me stronger when I tap into it. The memory of my mom was a helper, too. The Brambly Hedge books and Harry Potter books, they were helpers last night.
I have met trees, flowers, rivers, rocks, and vegetable gardens that have been helpers. Same with books, classes, music, ideas, mantras, advertising campaigns, items of clothing, jewelry, and shoes. Paintings can help us. Poems can help us. Bridges and fireplaces and warm socks can teach us. A good night of dancing can heal us. Beautiful meals and good sex can transform us.
It’s your job to go find the helpers you need. Peonies and massages and postmodern feminist literary theory are some of my very best teachers, but yours might be Taylor Swift or sungold tomatoes or the way the sky looks at night from the top of a mountain. It might be a masters in accounting or Jungian analysis or knitting.
Sometimes our helpers come into our lives in distressing disguises. Mary Oliver wrote, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
But most often our helpers are just mildly embarrassing. The TV show we get obsessed with. The nerdy class we sheepishly sign up for. How much sleep we need. The sappy song that makes us weep and weep until we find to our great surprise that we are washed clean.
It can seem mysterious at times: a painfully elusive slow reveal.
But keep searching out your helpers. They will help you put something remarkable into the world. Something new and brave and impossible. They will help you do that thing you think you have no right to be able to do.
And make no mistake, dearheart– that thing is not frivolous.
It matters so much.
In fact, when it comes right down to it, it’s kind of everything.