So much of our daily lives revolve around cycles: rising eating working studying sleeping. No matter how many years pass, we like to think some intrinsic features of those cycles change. When our oldest daughter started at university, I felt so proud of her. However, I also felt afraid. Our children are a very real doorway to our own pasts. As my daughter navigates the rocky world of academia and intelligence, it seems her instinctual drive is to compare herself to her peers and judge her performance accordingly, regardless of how hard she works.
Seeing her struggles bring me back to my own experiences of school. The older I got, the more difficult it became, not just because of the extra hurdles of mental challenges, of raising a family, of starting again in a new country. It seemed that not only my ability to retain new information became less reliable, my tendency to question my abilities, to doubt, and to waver in confidence grew. It seemed that within my adult self lay the kernel of the child, always reaching for approval, always needing someone to say I’d done well.
I came late to my childrens’ lives as a parent, and I sometimes wonder if it would have made a difference if they had known me from the beginning. Could I have nurtured that initial fragile self-confidence in a way that my daughters would not now face the same inner struggles as I once had?
Perhaps not – perhaps that is part of a greater life cycle, of finding our way in the world.
In a dream, I once knew the euphoria of life without reference to the familiar, without the false reassurance of ground. In a vast blue sky I soared, and I became unaware of myself or others, of any reference for comparison. I became part of the sky. Then the sky darkened, and fear overcame me, and I retreated to earth.
Remembering those moments of soaring flight only stirs the wish for another flight, one that knows not fears or limitations. I feel the wings of a creator unfurling slowly within my soul.