At the beginning

st clair pic2

If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see three girls heading off into the future. Ignore the sign to the public toilets, that’s a minor detail. The point is everything else. The signs directing us to the rest of the world, the one marking the spot right where we are. This is the beginning of everything.

Who knew we had to come so far to come so far? I didn’t. Sometimes the future turns up and smacks us right in the face with it’s now-ness, it’s very here-I-am-ness. “And what are you going to do about me,” it demands. “What are you going to do with all this potential?”

I’ve always felt that I was somehow defective, let’s make that plain. And that it was my fault. You may understand. I was too different, too clumsy, too opinionated, too stupid, too sensitive, too wrong. The list could go on. I wasted my time on self-doubt, spent forty years defending myself, threw my pearls down like cattle feed, bent my ear to everyone but myself. It’s time to get on with things.

I am making quite sure that I bring up children who know exactly how to talk back. I give them opportunities to excel in the language of disagreement. In our house doors are slammed, fists get clenched, faces ashen with anger. It is my job, and I take it seriously, to ensure that there is ample room for dialogue. Feelings are formulated into words, words are spoken. I want to know how they feel. And I don’t, generally speaking, take it personally.

The most exquisite and most painful challenge for any parent is to give to their children what they were not given themselves. This is true for all of us, everywhere. But to give it to them well, we must eventually (and the sooner the better) give it to ourselves. And so I am working hard on listening to myself, on putting feelings into words, on telling the truth. The truth begins inside, it’s an internal knowing that is apprehended in the quiet dark space within. But eventually it needs to take shape. It needs to be spoken out loud. This is where I begin.