Dear JL and SC,
When Theodor Geisel’s (a.k.a. “Dr. Suess”) daughter graduated from college he wrote a book entitled, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” offering her some life advice and encouragement as she went off into the world. Inspired by his effort (though without the pithy rhymes), I thought I might give it a try.
First, even though you know this, I just have to say one more time how proud mom and I are of both of you. Your grades and your achievements outside of the classroom are many and varied, but most of all you should be proud of the people you have become. You are both compassionate and wise, always open to new experiences and adventures. (I am so happy this is true, even if that openness is a bit terrifying for mom and me at times.) You each want to become the person you were meant to be and will refuse to fit into any mold that others might want you to fill (even if that “others” is us!).
There is a poem I have in my classroom which I place right by the door so my students can see it when they come in and go out. The poet e.e. cummings wrote it: “To be nobody/but/yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” You are both holding your own quite well so far in that struggle.
Though, as you know, I have a pathological compulsion to give advice, I will try and control myself. Except for one little piece – Always be open to Love. It takes many forms, sometimes comes disguised, pops up in the most unexpected places, is the life force that courses through ever fiber of our beings. Everyone is capable of giving and receiving it, everyone is loved beyond his/her ability to imagine, most people just need half a chance to show it. When you come across someone who seems cruel, or cold, or heartless, or mean, know that this person too is capable of love. Your kindness and patience just might have the power to unclog the conduits through which love flows that pain and heartbreak and disappointment have blocked.
Which is not to say, of course, that you should take anyone’s shit. There is a way to be true to yourself yet still -as mom often says – hold space for that person who is difficult.
Finally (really!) know that the world is a bit like Sunny. Full of mischief, sometimes a pain in the ass, but really, really good at heart. Don’t be afraid of the growl.
And REALLY finally – know that I speak for mom and myself when I say it has been our honor, our privilege and our joy to watch you both grow up and to journey with you through your lives thus far. We love you and will always be here for you wherever and whenever you need us.
Time to jump in the pool. Don’t be afraid. The water’s really nice once you get in it and you both are really good swimmers.