Every now and then I’ll have a big ah ha moment…you know the kind of eureka rush when you see some lie blown out of the water by a Truth. Call it a light bulb click or revelation but its visceral and you’re sure it has changed your life. In my case I usually can’t remember what the heck it was the next day. I choose to believe that’s because its been absorbed it into my psyche but that may well be delusional. Whatever the case, I had one of those today but this one, maybe this one…I’ll remember.
I had a beautiful, talented, fiercely loving Mother. She was also on occasion domineering and to a large degree, controlling. She was born in an era not given to supporting gifted women of ambition and so in her own loving way she projected her thwarted ambition onto her daughters. Driven by this devoted love she tended to micro manage our choices, thoughts and drives. In so doing I realized today…today!….that that need to control usurped to some degree a conversation I should’ve been having with my self from an early age of how to regulate, check in with, even know a deeper self. It also interrupted a conversation Mom probably could have benefited from with herself.
I remember two moments when I was about five that I had with what I’ll describe as my core being. One was in prayer. It was private, nothing more than a sure feeling that an essence of self was in direct communication with a beneficent and divine power. It was a simple moment that felt good.
The other, soon after, was an intention that erupted from within and illuminated my five year old horizon. When I declared this newly revealed intention to Mom that I wanted “to be a ballerina” she said “No you don’t.” “I don’t? How could I not know myself?”, I wondered. Her statement was so sure I can to this day feel the shock of hearing those words. It felt like an unmooring. Some part of an authentic trajectory shifted that day to align instead with Mom’s. I’ve had millions of moments and eruptions since then but a healthy percentage of them have been more in discourse with Mom’s voice than with my truest inner own.
Surely we all leave untapped experiences and selves on the road as we move forward in our lives be it by choice, circumstance, loss or ignorance. Part of the human condition. Fair to say that if I had really wanted to become a ballerina I’d have found a way. Also, Mom likely spared me years of disappointment as my head and rib cage are too big for a decent silhouette and my turn out is downright lousy. What lessons though and/or open doors go undiscovered by not taking a path we think we’re meant for? What repercussions occur when we are parented from the outside in rather than from the inside out? What part of self remains unarticulated and silent when drowned out by even extremely well intended outside voices? What star dust goes unmanifested? In living even a portion of someone else’s, do we miss our own destiny? Can a surgical separation of false from the authentic voice be performed in the operating theatre of hindsight?
Mom had a gorgeous life. In fact two nights before she died, Dad and I were sitting on her bed, all of us crying until Mom said, “I’ve had the best of everything and I know I have.” What a statement! That is not the sentiment of a soul who has left a lot of living on the table. Still I mourn the talents she did not have a chance to express. That goes for the macrocosm as well.
It’s a new era for parenting today. A brilliant Rabbi I know teaches a course called “How to Parent the Soul of a Child”. I cannot imagine such a line of thinking to have been popular during my early years. People were too busy just trying to rebuild shattered lives and communities in a post WWII world. In the free world though it is an active pursuit on today’s frontier and I suppose it’s never ever too late to parent the soul of the inner child.
Hey, Ballerina(s)! I’m coming for you!