Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Life as Interpreted by Kahlil

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams…. Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet”. At sixteen, you read from Kahlil Gibran, and it affects you in ways that is different from most of the poetry you are assigned in school. What makes it great is that; it is never assigned reading. Often a friend told you about it. It is spiritual enough to be moving, but not overwhelmingly religious. And you can understand it, probably even relate to some of it. On children was always my favorite section, even before I had them. That is unless someone had broken my heart, in which case I turned to the section on love for comfort. But as with most tragic young love, it was over as soon as you had another date. Just FYI, the section on marriage, is frightening, while Joy and Sorrow still makes no sense at all. But I digress, (as is often the case). Today is my son Seth's birthday. He is old enough that, not only can’t I believe it, but it doesn’t make any sense. My Aunt Irene would explain it this way, “I’m that old, how can he be that old.” People have different reactions to birthdays once they are past 21. Some are fun and some are dreadful. (My 35th was the worst because I got a bad haircut. My cousin Honey always says, “consider the alternative”. While she’s right, birthdays mark a progression in life, when you start to face your own mortality – which need not be unpleasant, but, like child birth, it is never easy. Once you’re at a point where reflection is more than just what happened yesterday, you start to think about how you passed time so far, and how do you want to spend the rest of your life. (I digress again). Back to Kahlil. My favorite lines in this poem start with, (and I omitted two paragraphs), “You may house their bodies but not their souls” Here it comes, “For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. Have you ever heard, “mom, you just don’t get it”, said in a lovelier way? Anyway, part of what you think about, especially on a child’s birthday, is, what could you have done to make their lives easier or better. As well as, is there something you can do now that can repair any damage you did when they were growing up. Kahlil says, “They don’t belong to you”. Another way of saying, “get over it”. Even though, for as long as we live, we never get over it. Most loving parents think they are doing the best they can at the time they do it. And who’s to measure whether they did or not. Here’s what Kahlil and I agree on,”your children are not your children”. No it doesn't make any sense, but neither does perfect parenting. We're Just Sayin...

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