This Is A Big Time

I was recently asked to contribute some reflective words to a young friend who was graduating from high school. This is what I came up with… ~ mlp 

This is a big time.
In our country, many consider one’s graduation from high school a launch from childhood into adulthood. In many places where folks are less fortunate than those in our safe little town, receiving your high school diploma is actually a rite of passage that ingloriously means “time to get a job and support yourself.” In our community, it’s treated more as a stepping stone, and you have been taught that you are now supposed to go out and find your place in the world.

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped you that for the past six months everyone around you has had a lot of advice for you about where, how and when you ought to find that illusive “place.” And you may be growing weary of their recommendations. But let me tell you (and yes, I recognize the ridiculous irony around me offering you advice about taking advice) – let me tell you this: All these folks who love you are really doing is telling you how they had done their own lives differently. The only thing that will give them greater satisfaction than their own, is watching you run the life race longer and more successfully. They want you to be happy.

Yes. This is a big time.

By now you have noticed that this letter is a random “to do” and occasionally “to don’t” list. I like lists. They imply that shit’s going to get done, and they hint that once every item has been checked off – good things are coming your way and you can get on with having fun. So, here’s another item:

As much as getting a job (or a higher education) seems to scream “adult,” adulthood is not conferred upon you by age or degree. It’s about maturation. In some departments of your short life, you’ve been an adult since you were three years old – like the way you play so peacefully with others. In other areas of your life, you will never be an adult. And that’s okay. We’re not wired to be fantastically mature at everything. In fact, you will be happier in the long haul if you can stay well connected to your childlike self. The wisest old people I know only consider themselves “grown up” on occasion. Thank God.

Next, as tempting as it is to “look forward” and as much as the people around you may be imploring you to change the world, please consider this alternative: Look within.

No one every changed the world for the better without first attending to their own self. As a matter of fact, no one ever helped their neighbor without first being able to help themselves or taught a friend a lesson without first struggling through one of their own. And certainly – no one ever nurtured a long, healthy and joyful relationship with any other person, place or thing, without first nurturing themselves. Look within.

Which of course lends itself to this: Learn to love yourself with gusto.

You know gusto, right? It used to be that feeling on the wet slip-slid that you played on in the backyard when you were little. It’s dancing, kissing, laughing till you pee your pants, and how good you feel when put your nose into the sweet smell of your own pillow. With that sort of gusto love you will find courage, a ready sense of adventure, the ability to say you’re sorry to those you hurt and the willingness to forgive those who have hurt you. With that love you will find curiosity and playfulness, passionate intimacy and soldering sex, and the ability to be alone with true grace. Loving yourself with gusto might make you a rebel, and people might not always agree with you or like you. That’s okay, too. (Actually, I believe that if you aren’t pissing off a few folks on occasion, your gusto may need an oil change.)

To love yourself is not a selfish act, it is an act of self preservation and deep truth. When you love yourself with gusto you become limitless. Be limitless, my friend.

Finally, as you have already learned – the universe is going to continually offer you opportunities to learn how to surrender. Surrender does not mean to buckle in or give up.  And to surrender does not make you weak or helpless. It actually makes you tremendously strong and capable. In short, to surrender and be present with was is (rather than fight what is not) is to recognize that you have no control over anything save two crucial factors: your attitude and your willingness to have faith that all will be well.

Please, dear one – if my list doesn’t suit you, throw it out and make your own. I urge you to make your own choices, trust that your heart knows best, don’t take things too personally, and remember what Maya Angelou said “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, make yourself feel brilliant and true – and then pass it along.

With all my love ~


About Martha Phelps Studio ~ creative on purpose

...a meandering journal of a changing life and the unexpected graces it brings. Earlier posts may provide some history, but this series of writings aren't likely to follow a straight line as I explore topics such as raising kids, making choices, self discovery, the impact of change on a family and how to (hopefully) live with balance and purpose.
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