January 31, 2011

Beginnings

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about beginnings and childhood. I was chatting with some friends the other night about parenthood, and it spurred on these reminiscences I suppose. Now, none of us have children of our own, but I’ve worked as a nanny for many years and a teacher before that. They have their own experiences with little ones in their family. We were tossing ideas around about what types of parents we would want to be – lenient or strict, open or cautious, etc. – but my thoughts became focused more on my own parents and childhood than about what I might do if I had my own children.

I began thinking about what I most cherished about my childhood, despite the trauma I experienced and the following very difficult years. What about my beginnings had most shaped me? Then I came across this poem I wrote many years ago, and I thought it said it best:

BACKYARD
 
Stinging summer sweat
oozing from my pores,
wetting the back of my
sunburned neck.

Limbs, not yet proportional,
moving me towards my goal.

Fresh cut grass –
smells of periwinkle blues
mixed with jasmine flavored wine.
 
Honeysuckle flavors mixing
with thorny, rosy vines.

Shimmering breezes cooling
my unwrinkled brow.
 
Muscles contracting,
pulsing with youthful energy.

The different shades racing past,
blending into one calming palette.

An expanse of opportunity –
to play, to run, to sleep, even to write.
 
I've left my footprints all over
this childhood field.

Sleeping beneath a bed of stars.
Thinking of the me that
was, is, and will be.

Thank God for the wide open space
that surrounded my home.
I was never confined,
never forced to resign
to thinking, to living
small.
 
---
Whatever faults my parents may have had, the one gift they gave me was space to roam, to explore, to reject being boxed in. At times, when I feel life or my perspective or my dreams becoming small – I return to those times when I had a full sky above me and wide open space around me. I remember that limitations are so often there because of my own small thinking or fears – and that, the reality is, I have all sorts of freedom to stretch, expand, and go big.

What beginnings most shaped you?

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