Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Letter to My 8-Year-Old Self: The TSP Book Club

At 6.5 years old, they're not quite 8 yet. 
But they are amazing creatures, full of curiosity, eagerness, spunk and just enough vinegar to be really interesting. 
They are cousins, born one month apart at a time when our family needed reminders that life is constantly being renewed as well as ending. Writing a letter to myself reminded me of just how precious this time is - and how formative. 

I am beginning to fall behind on our readings for TweetSpeakPoetry. We're wrestling through Julia Cameron's wildly successful artistic-recovery-handbook, "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity," doing two chapters each week. 

That is a whole lot of chapters. 

Because each one is filled with projects/assignments/self-reflection. 

And all of that takes TIME. Time which I haven't really had a lot of this week, what with graduations, traveling with my mom, and the demands of daily life. Which may well mean that I will not have a contribution for next week - I've still got one chapter to read from THIS week. 

So...for today's response, I will post one of the assignments from the chapter entitled: "Recovering a Sense of Integrity." (By the way, the main 'ask' of this chapter is something that is IMPOSSIBLE TO DO when you're reading 2 chapters per week and this chapter is the first one - we were asked to undergo a week-long reading deprivation. Uh-huh. Like THAT's going to happen. Clearly this book was written LONG before internet activity took over the living of life.)

This is a letter written to my childhood self. And I will grudgingly admit that this exercise - and much of what we were asked to do for this chapter - stirred a lot of stuff. And may, in fact, be at least partially responsible for two posts written earlier this week that I feel are among the strongest I've ever put here. (The first one can be found here, and the second one, here.) But...that's just me. Being grudging. 

So...forthwith, a letter to me...many years ago.


You have no idea how remarkable you are or what kind of life is ahead for you. None at all. Enjoying 3rd grade, walking to school with pride and a growing sense of independence, embarrassed by how tall and ungainly you believe yourself to be. And the skin problems? Don't even get me started about how constricting that is for you.

But here's the thing, honey. NONE of that is going to matter at all. 

I know, I know. It's tough to believe that. Especially when you carry around all your mother's anxiety about yourself. I know your heart, young one. I know that you believe you are both 'too much' and 'not enough.'

Too tall
Too smart
Too bossy
Too duck-footed
Too strong-willed
Too different from what your mom believes you could/should be

AND, at the same time...

Not graceful
Not coordinated
Not picked for the playground sports endeavors
Not pretty like Sylvia
Not popular like_______(fill in the blank with any of about a dozen names from that era)
Not mold-able, at least on the inside 

Please hear me when I say this:
     You are exactly who you are supposed to be...
 ...and that is a glorious thing. 

Glorious, do you hear that? 

Yes, indeed. Glorious. Full of curiosity, a daydreamer and  dawdler who takes the time to both look - really look - at the world around you, and to imagine all kinds of worlds in that head of yours.

You imagine that the milk bottles left in the rack on the back porch are a family, that they have names and they carry on quite the conversation after the household has gone to bed. 

You believe that if you just dig deep enough, you will end up in China one day.

You write a short story about peas in a pod - and the interesting family life they lead. 

You are affirmed by teacher after teacher for your creativity with words and ideas -  yet - you don't believe them. You don't treasure those words. Why is that? 

I think it's because your parents, good people and loving and generous - I think it's because your parents are so deeply afraid of your getting a 'big head,' of thinking yourself worthy of acclaim. 

They deliberately play it low-key when you get good grades and kind remarks. They are proud of you - yes, you know that they are. But they are cautious, circumspect, sincere in their belief that flattery is a tool of the devil and never to be trusted. 

And you are a very good learner, especially...especially when it comes to intuiting the feelings and moods of others. So you soaked that fear of theirs down deep into your pores. Even at your tender age, you don't trust anyone who says something nice about you

So, if I can just say this to you right now, with all the love I can muster for how tender you are at this age, how malleable and open to wonder - if I can just say this:
You are totally unique - one of a kind - none other in this world is exactly like you. And YOU, dear girl, are God's gift to this world in a way that no one else ever has been or ever will be.  

You are not your mother and  you do not need to be like her. You are not your father and you do not need to be like him. You can learn from them - and you will! - but YOU are the only Diana Ruth Gold on this planet. The only one that looks like you, thinks like you, dreams like  you. And that is pretty great, kiddo. 

That is pretty darn great.

With lots of love and gratitude for who you are right this instant,

Your older and more seasoned self.

And I can just imagine that YOU might make this very face at me about now.
Oh, how I hope you would. Because I LOVE this feistiness and I'd like to think it's a generational gift.