How many thousands, perhaps millions, of words have been cast toward you? How much of what you have heard has fashioned you into who you have become? Since the day we were born, our caretakers have reared us through the thoughts they have had and the words they have used. Parents, educators, ministers, and numerous authority figures have worked fervently to impart their mantle of knowledge into our awareness.
It makes sense to share this gained knowledge to inform and bring up children to become contributing members of society. It is both reasonable and wise for parents to monitor their children’s progress toward that end. And so we find ourselves reiterating to our children what is acceptable behavior, and what is not acceptable behavior. We also easily begin to form an endless barrage of commentary and a list of questions to reinforce that which we want our children to learn or to do. We then gauge our children’s ongoing success by their willingness to respond according to our expectations.
Cooperation and a shared understanding can foster family harmony. Raising children who think and act in ways that match our family interests and values is an understandable comfort to parents. But with our ever-present, ongoing input, inquiries, and expectations, is it possible our child-rearing efforts overshadow, suppress, or even subvert our children? Where on the continuum is the ratio of our talking to our listening? Are we out of balance? Have we invested so much of ourselves into our children that we have overlooked fostering the unique, wondrous, magical self within each child?
Do we really know who our children are, apart from us? At varied levels of understanding have we encouraged them to discover their own individual desires? Have we honored their personal characteristics? Have we respected their insights? Have we sought out and discussed their questions?
Kahlil Gibran, the late poet, writes that our children are an expression of “Life’s longing for itself…you may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts…you may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
Each of us came into this world to express who we were born to be, but many of us have become lost into the words of who we were “supposed to become.” When we are enmeshed in so many words that have never been ours, how do we know where others leave off and we begin? How do we know what our own words are? How do we discover our own way?
There is no one answer nor single path back to who we were born to be. There is no panacea to efficiently remedy how many of us were raised. It is likely the adults in our lives did the very best they could do at the time they were raising us. When this was not the case, we have been left to work through the consequences of those events as well — doubling and tripling our efforts to find ourselves in the midst of what were perhaps overwhelming experiences. For some of us, right now, it is enough that we are who we have become. We are content with our life as it is. This is well and good. There is no better nor worse place to be.
For those of us interested in regaining touch with our wondrous, magical selves there is continued work to do. There are key attributes we will need to summon up as we embark on our journey. Honing our awareness is first. Building our intuition and increasing our trust in its guidance is also vital. Intuition is our heart speaking to us. The words of our heart will never lead us astray.
Our exploration will also require ongoing courage, self-observation, perseverance, and honest reflection. With almost certainty, our forgiveness will be called upon as well. Regaining our connection to who we were born to be is worth every effort for this road trip. There may not be a pot of gold at the end of our journey, but there is a refreshing, revitalizing stream of joy.