It is without a doubt, my favorite time of day. The house is dark save for the soft light pouring from the lamp on my nightstand. I’ve put to bed all of the concerns of the hours leading up to this one and I’ve curled up with just a pen and a clean, white page in my leather-bound journal. I scribble the date at the top of the page and begin to write. All is silent and still. These minutes belong only to me.
I write about anything and everything from the mundane events of ordinary life and noteworthy events to frustrations, disappointments, successes and failures. And naturally, there is the occasional, profanity-laced rant. The writing is cathartic. But sometimes just the feel of the soft leather book in my hands and the sound of the spine crackling as I pry it open, is a reward in and of itself.
On one particular evening while venting about a personal frustration, I looked up from my journal and out into the hallway. My gaze fell upon a single photograph hanging among many. It is a picture of a young girl, about 4 or 5 years old, wearing a little red sweatshirt with the hood up, tied tight. She is perched on a large stone step with her chin buried in the crook of her tiny arm, looking as though she’s carrying the weight of the world on her small shoulders. She is clearly contemplating something, though I know not what.
I’ve walked by this photo a thousand times, but on this particular night, I was struck by an overwhelming compulsion. I wanted desperately in that moment to run to her, scoop her baby face into my 36-year-old hands and tell her so many things! No, I have not lost my mind. I know that this was never a viable option. But so powerful was my urge to do this impossible thing that I imagined what the encounter might look like…
I would tell her not to be in such a hurry to grow up and to think before she speaks. I would caution her not to be so hard on herself as she grows older and to never waste precious tears on stupid boys who’ll break her heart and awful girls who’ll act like her friends when they are anything but. I would tell her that there are amazing things out there! So many places to see, experiences to enjoy, moments to relish and victories she’ll never dream possible.
There will be times of tremendous joy, celebration and heart-stopping laughter. And times when the pain will be SO sharp, she’ll truly believe that she cannot go on. She’ll love with her whole heart and grieve when the same love disappoints. That oftentimes with incredible discovery can come unimaginable loss. Yet I would also impart to her that strength can be found in the smiles of strangers and on the big, broad shoulders of true friends… and that sometimes salvation will be found when and where she least expects it. I’d share with her the valuable secrets that she will one day stand on top of mountains and delve into the depths of the ocean. I would tell her that Life is really just one giant, scary, lovely, messy adventure and that she shouldn’t waste one single breath of it thinking she’s not enough.
But then again, perhaps I wouldn’t say anything to her at all. She will find out entirely on her own… everything in its time… and it will make her the person that I see in the mirror every day.