Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life Going Not Backward

Cue the violins. Get 'em ready. Have them tuned, because after this post they'll be swelling to magnificent proportions in our final poignant scene as our young heroine turns her face toward the light, her eyes set on a future we cannot see but can only imagine and walks purposefully into the brilliant future.

I have learned something in parenting. Raising cats is easier. This is the truth of the matter. Cats may soil your rug. They may hack up hairballs on your carpet. They may decide to take a nap on your newly ironed black pants and leave a mess of fur behind. But cats, cats will never leave to go to college. Nope. The cat, he will stay home.

The truth about parenting is that if we do it right, one day our children leave us. Whether they walk out our doors hauling shower shoes and laptops to attend college, or take that ukelele and the tiny bubble maker and head to Hawaii to become the next Don Ho, the time will come when their dreams call them into a new reality. And we can't go with them.

I'm especially mindful of this after last Friday's sojourn to Franklin College, a two-and-a-half hours drive to the south of us. The cars were laden with a mini refrigerator, a microwave, ether net cables, and more shoes than Imelda Marcos. And as we made up the bed with the turquoise extra-long sheets, and lined up the staple of the college student's existence, Kraft macaroni and cheese, on the shelf, and as we made the last minute run to Walmart to buy lightbulbs I found myself simultaneously giddy for her and puzzled for how life continues at our home without her.

Kahlil Gibran once wrote these words in his poetic masterpiece The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Truer words have never been spoken.

And she is already dwelling in the house of tomorrow. While I sit with the cat quietly purring on my lap.

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