From the moment I laid eyes on my first born, I have believed in the wisdom of my child. When Rachel’s eyes looked into mine on that first night, I saw thousands of years of sage knowledge buried in the depths of purity in her brown eyes. I have always trusted in her sense of self and the truth that she immerses herself in. Tonight, she proved to me once again that she carries the lessons of the Universe deep in her heart; she is an old soul who’s been here before and I’m just here to take it all in and bear witness to this glorious being.
She had come to me for advice on a college English assignment. She was to write a memoir and she said she needed help. “I’m just 16,” she said, “I haven’t lived enough yet to write a memoir.”
We began sharing some stories from her childhood; experiences she had, lessons she’d learned. Nothing was fitting and she was getting frustrated, then I was getting frustrated because she was discounting every idea I’d offered up.
I decided to tell her the story that I would use if it were my assignment and as I told the story about a moment I shared with my grandparents, I began to cry. She told me that was the type of story she wanted to tell, but she hadn’t lived through any of those types of experiences yet, even though she felt she could understand those lessons without really having to live them for herself.
I chuckled and told her, “Let’s face it Rachel, this isn’t your first go round at this rodeo. You’re very evolved for a 16 year old.” We both laughed and it broke the tension. “I can’t remember any of those stories Mom,” she sighed and rolled her eyes just like the mixture of old soul and sixteen year old that she is.
It reminded me of a conversation we had, had a few weeks before about knowing your “WHY”, a concept taught by Simon Sinek, in his book, “Start with Why”. I had asked her what her why was. She had answered, “I am a writer, I tell stories.”
“But why do you tell stories?” I went on. “I have to,” she explained with a look that said it was a stupid question. “But why do you have to?” I prodded. “Because I am the guardian of the world’s stories. I have to honor and tell those stories,” she replied with complete conviction.
As I remembered the encounter while we were talking about her memoir assignment, I looked at her and said gently, “When did you know you were a writer? When did you know you had to tell stories? Tell them that story.”
She looked at me with those deep, knowing brown eyes and began, “I was about 11 and I was sitting in the backyard and I began imagining this story about a girl who is lost in the woods. It just seemed like a great idea and I came in and started writing and didn’t stop that day until I had written about thirty pages. I just knew it was what I had to do and I was going to do it. And I did.”
I looked at my beautiful, daughter a young woman filled with hopes and dreams and the wisdom of the ancients. She went on, “I don’t let doubts get in the way of what I am creating. I just create. While I am creating, I just work until I’m done. I’ll only let the doubts come later. I never let it stop me from telling my stories, from being who I am. I saw this quote that I love, ‘I’d rather live a life of oh wells, than of what ifs.’ That’s how I want to live.”
Oh yes, I know how lucky I am to be this child’s mother and if I ever have to write a memoir about the big lessons I learned during my life, I know I will remember this night when my daughter and I shared a small exchange that led to a huge life lesson for me. Let the doubts come later, only after you have done the work, created the art, let who you are come through, shared your story. If I make a mistake at least I know I will be saying, “Oh well,” not “What if…” And our story continues….