Friend, we need you. The world has suffered while you’ve been hiding. You are already forgiven. You are loved. All there is left to do is to step into your life. What does that mean? What the hell does that mean?
This is what it means. These are the steps you take. They are plain as mud: Get out of bed. Don’t lie there and think—thinking is the kiss of death for us—just move. Take a shower. Sing while you’re in there. Make yourself sing. The stupider you feel, the better. Giggle at yourself, alone. Joy for its own sake—joy just for you, created by you—it’s the best. Find yourself amusing.
Put on some makeup. Blow-dry your hair. Wear something nice, something that makes you feel grown up. If you have nothing, go buy something. Today’s not the day to worry too much about money. Invest in some good coffee, caffeinated and decaf. (Decaf after eleven o’clock.) Read your daughter a story. Don’t think about other things while you’re reading; actually pay attention to the words. Then braid your girl’s hair. Clean the sink. Keep good books within reach.
A Little Advice
There is really only one way to deal gracefully with being human, and that is this:
It’s not a once-and-for-all thing, self-forgiveness. It’s more like a constant attitude. It’s just being hopeful. It’s refusing to hold your breath. It’s loving yourself enough to offer yourself a million more tries. It’s what we want our kids to do every day for their whole lives, right? We want them to embrace being human instead of fighting against it. We want them to offer themselves grace.
Forgiveness and grace are like oxygen: we can’t offer it to others unless we put our masks on first. We have to put our grace masks on and breathe in deep. We have to show them how it’s done. We need to love ourselves if we want our kids to love themselves. We don’t necessarily have to love them more; we have to love ourselves more. We have to be gentle with ourselves. We have to forgive ourselves and then . . . oh my goodness . . . find ourselves sort of awesome, actually, considering the freaking circumstances.
Brave Is a Decision
We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd. Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year, honey. Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
Gifts Are Bridges
I think sometimes we get confused and believe that our gift must bring us money or success or fame. Sometimes those things do happen, but not usually. The only thing a gift needs to do is bring you joy. You must find the thing that brings you joy in the doing of that thing, and not worry about the outcome. Your gift might be crucial and obviously helpful, like being a good listener, or it might be odd and unique.
You will know your gift because it will bring you joy and satisfaction, even if it’s hard for you to do. You will go about using your gift quietly, and eventually someone might notice and ask you to share your gift. If you agree to share, your gift will become a bridge.
We are each an island, but he gives us gifts to use as bridges into each other’s lives. When we lay down our gift, we walk right over it and straight into another heart.