I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
– WB Yeats
This one is a complicated year to chronicle. It was still a plague year, so not much happened, but everything happened? We are all coming out of a universal fugue state, but are still clambering awkwardly in the dark. There have been flickers of life as it was before the plague, but not many. This was a year of stagnation and profound change, and in looking through all the photos that we took over the past year, I can simultaneously see the lightning-quick passage of time and the dregs of the world’s circumstances that seemed to stop time altogether.
Adolescence is hard enough to slog through even without a global catastrophe or three, and yet here we are. Though much of the darkness of the past few years is behind us, we all still find ourselves reckoning with so much emotional and psychic debris. This year has woven tons of stories, but many of them aren’t mine to tell. Lilith is a teenager, and they hold their cards close to their chest with the clam-secretive silence of that age.
Lilith, I love you. As always, I find it difficult to put into words the primal, all-encompassing love I feel for you, my child. You are always in my thoughts, in my soul, in the space between each beat of my heart. All I want is for the world to be kind to you, for fate to lift you into triumph and greatness, for you to love and be loved with sincerity, compassion, and kindness, for you to see all the world in its beauty, and for you to be safe, healthy, prosperous, wise, gentle, and strong.
As a parent, I know that this transition into adolescence means I need to start letting go in order to let you step into your own light and your own power with your own voice, but god… sometimes it is so hard. I still want to kiss the hurts and make them better, I still want to hold you when you weep. I want to fight every one of your battles, I want to protect you from every grief, every sorrow, and every loss that this strange world hurls at you. I want to slay every dragon, but I know I can’t, and I know I need to let you sharpen your sword, forge your own armor, steel yourself, and face some dragons on your own.
(But I will always be here should you need me.)
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.
You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.
Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
– Walt Whitman