I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My Children, Not My Children


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.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

KAHLIL GIBRAN The Prophet

9 comments:

Herringbone said...

I don't remember how I was directed to your blog, but I'm glad I found it. Thanks for this one.

am said...

Your grown up children appear to be about the age I was when I read those words from a copy of The Prophet that had been given to my parents as a wedding present in 1948 and had been on their bookshelf for my entire life.

Prior to reading it, I had occasionally looked at the mystifying illustrations in puzzlement, wondering what this book had to do with my parents. It is likely that I finally read it through because there was a renewed interest in the book in the late 1960s. I was particularly moved by same words you have posted today and went to my mother and read them to her because I thought she was trying to make me like her. Gibran's word gave me a kind way to express what at the time was a growing resentment of her. All I remember is that my mother accepted thoughtfully what I read to her. It was a turning point for us.

I see lively spirits in your children. Thank you for this post.

Gail said...

HI - I know this all too well - as I struggle to understand my first born's distance from me, from us. It is especially challenging the Christmas season and other special occasions, and sometimes on just some random Tuesday. Ya know? Still, I have dreams of her return or my going to "claim her", it is all quite unsettling.
Love Gail
peace.....

George said...

This is just sensational, Robert, and something we need to reminded of almost daily. I suspect that ninety percent of parental pain could be avoided if we could simply take these words to heart and let them direct our actions and inactions. Great looking kids—beautiful daughter and your son looks just like you.

This post helps me make sense of my relationship with my own son, and I plan to send a copy of your post to my daughter, who has a son and is expecting a daughter in early March. Thanks again.

Laura said...

The timing of your sharing this is blessed as I anticipate 10 days with adult children home. Thank you.

ksam said...

Between you & Andy's blog today, you have both given me an answer to a prayer, as well as the words to explain my perspective in a difficult, if not impossible situation.

Sometimes I know I wonder at our choices for our various blogs. Wonder if the words will resonate with someone else. They matter to us, often for reasons we don't explain fully, nor should we perhaps. And so we send them out...ponderings that we share. Then, every so often, it is clear that they hit a chord with someone else too. Funny how it can be that way. Nice to read here that I'm not the only one for whom, at this time the words speak with special eloquence.

This as I hold close one tiny granddaughter, sleeping in my arms, and wonder, hope, pray to see the other one...soon. All from some trying to hold too close the arrows that need to fly.

More thanks than I know how to put here! Mercy buckets!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for visiting, Herringbone. I had a look at your own blog with its most interesting layout and pithy posts. I will be back!

Am, to read your always thoughtful comments is such a pleasure.

Gail - hi! Nice to hear from you again. Hope Christmas is less challenging than you fear in the end.

Thanks for your lovely comment, George. Parent-child relationships can indeed be fraught. I feel I'm a pretty medioce father at times. But I suspect all parents feel inadequate now and again, if not much of the time.

Laura! It's nice to hear from you after such a long time!
Hope you are OK - I know things have been difficult for you earlier this year.

Karin - to be the answer to a prayer is indeed humbling! Such a beautiful comment, and I thank you for it deeply.

Ruth said...

Oh yes. They come through you. Amazing. And you may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. I feel this keenly.

As I anticipate my unborn grandson, I think of these things a lot; the poem gives shape to it, beautiful shape. Like George, I'm going to send it to my daughter and son-in-law expecting their first.

Grace said...

I think I need to read that book again:)