I care, and it feels good
My daughter is one year old today. I wrote her a letter when she was just a little gummy bear of unknown character tucked away in the confines of my body. While re-reading the letter, I realized that she has indeed given me an incredible gift: I care!
You are only 10 weeks old, unaware of your existence, but with all vital organs in place. The most important thing I can do for you now is to take care of myself. I must treat my own body as sacred, for it is doing its most important work. I will be housing you for the next 30 weeks. The food I eat will help you to grow and your brain to develop. The exercise I do will strengthen my body and mind so I may better carry you. I love you already. I am brimming with tentative excitement, and cannot wait to get beyond the scary first trimester so that I may fully embrace the joy of becoming your mother.
I am not your creator, as I had no say in the probabilistic nature of the union of the one egg and the one sperm that made you unique. I am not in control of who you will be. I am only in control of my own actions. It is my intent to care for you, support you, and love you as I have never loved another being. I accept the call to be your mother. I am excited to have you in my life.
You will change my life. I am 29 years old, but I am still a child. I am selfish. I complain when I have to do things I don’t want to do. I do not care about the future of this earth or the lives of the 7 billion people on it. My concern is restricted to the tiny sphere of my own life and those people I care about deeply. Your father, Jon Sack. Our families: Stoddard, Sack, and Meeks. My few dear friends. I expect my vision to expand into the future as I become concerned about your life, and the life of your children. Perhaps one of the gifts your existence will give me is a feeling of connection to the mutual goals of the human race. We all want the best for our children. We all want this world to be a supportive environment for future generations to thrive and not simply survive. If I learn to care, maybe I will finally find meaning in this existence. With connection to others comes purpose.
I recently read a letter by Lockheed engineer Willis Hawkins. He suggested that we are connected by being part of the evolution of human knowledge. Each of us accepts or denies ideas as true or not, and in that way we propel human knowledge forward. A few of us play a pivotal role in the evolution of knowledge by putting forth new ideas for the rest of humanity to evaluate. I have always wanted to be one of the few, but how could I be if I don’t care about the future of the world?I look forward to learning to care. Thank you for already giving me such a great gift.
My mother often read the book “Pierre” to me, about a bratty kid who does not care about anything. A lion asks the boy if he minds whether or not he eats him up. “I don’t care,” says Pierre, and the lion devours him. In facing his own mortality Pierre finally learns the most important lesson of his life…to care! I knew this once. I cared so much. I am not sure when or how this changed. Perhaps because I was rejected and retreated inward. If you don’t care you cannot get hurt. It has taken many years to recover from this, and I think that having you in my life is the final missing piece. I know it, because I care about you so much already!
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters by Maurice Sendak
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