An Open Letter To My Daughter About School Supplies And Life
Posted on September 5, 2014
While walking along the Columbia river on my lunch break, I was thinking about us sorting all your school supplies on your first day of First Grade. You were so excited with your unicorn backpack, matching lunch box and pink dress – all your own choices. You still believe in magic, in pink, and I love that. I hope you keep that within you, no matter what. After arriving outside your classroom, holding tightly to my hand, you let go to begin depositing our school supply contribution into the rows of cardboard boxes lining the hall. Each hold a crucial life lesson, little one. They do. Trust me. It’s taken me years to assimilate what can be gleaned from recognizing the symbolism in the objects we use to accomplish daily tasks.
Take the box of pencils. Each is a writing tool to help you express whatever your thinking, feeling or striving to learn. Every single one of them has an eraser attached because humans make mistakes. These aren’t just kid pencils, but mom pencils and dad pencils and brother pencils and aunt pencils… each born with the innate ability to make and correct a mistake. This phenomenon is expected and known, but many act like it’s a secret as if mistakes aren’t supposed to happen. But that isn’t true. Mistakes happen, often more than once, and that’s okay too because you can try again and again, until you get it. Or maybe you won’t, I spelled lose as loose up until my late twenties. Some lessons take longer to get. Some take a lifetime.
But before you think that each writing action has an equal and opposite reaction, look at the box overflowing with erasers. Each is filled with the promise of more mistakes than what can be corrected solely by the pencil eraser. Life gives you more chances because succeeding and learning are tandem to getting it wrong, often over and over again, repeating the mistake until the lesson is learned. Figuring it out can be found after tens upon hundreds of tries of not figuring it out. It’s not futile though, as you’re learning through it all. It simply wasn’t time for it to align the first or second or fortieth time as that can take effort. No one will make you do this, it’s up to you to try and try again.
Now, look at the box filled with pens. They don’t have erasers, they’re permanent. But you know what, while there is a bit more pressure, fret not and look beyond that box to the reams of paper stacked high like a towering promise of tomorrow. With these you don’t erase what you’ve done, but you let it go and start again, fresh and anew ready for you to fill. Each day, each hour, each moment is a new page, each choice the opportunity to let go of what came before and allow what is to come. This is within your power only, this refreshing and renewing of the nows.
My favorite box is next. The colors, whether crayons or markers, it doesn’t matter which you pick as your medium. It’s how you use them that provides a very important lesson. The world is not meant to be black and white. It really isn’t despite what many will try and tell you. There isn’t always a defined right and wrong, it can be a matter of perspective which is born of our experiences, gleaned from the life one leads. We all take different paths and each hold spaces between the defined black and white borders, but it’s up to you to color it blue, or green, or yellow or red. The colors are yours to express and why you chose what is yours to share. I hope you find yourself allowing others to share their kaleidoscope of living just as you shine in yours. Be open to this, don’t close off as then you might never know the Caribbean blues, Sahara golds or Dublin greens; the world is so many places, a rainbow of opportunity.
This sharing and reaching and connecting leads to the importance of the scotch tape. The lesson that so often what holds things together is transparent and while it cannot be seen, it can be felt. This is quite simple, but not easy to follow. You don’t need your eyes open to know, just your heart. Trust in your feelings, they’ll guide you. Always.
Little one, I don’t know when you’ll read this, if ever. But I hope to reflect the above to you as you grow older, as you make mistakes or get frustrated or know it all only to later feel like you know nothing. It’s okay, as each day is followed by the promise of tomorrow and, above all, I hope you tuck close that I’m here, ready to hold your hand as you walk into the various classrooms of life. This is a journey and I believe we chose to share it together.