Ups and downs, ins and outs, curve balls and random collisions. Who said Life was going to be easy? As I sort it out, here's a collection of my essays, newspaper columns and mental meanderings about family, friendship, ecology, politics and a world that goes bump in its fright.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Noticing Where You're Heading Can Keep You From Going Off a Cliff

Just before my most-beloved-person-in-the-entire-universe-except-perhaps-her-brother-with-whom-she's-equal-in-my-heart daughter left with the also beloved and beautiful spirit known as her boyfriend for points way south (see "Costa Rica," below), I realized I was being a butt. I was so concerned about the potentially horrific stuff that could happen to these two Americans in a part of the world where many people live for a year on less than the price of their truck, I couldn't see what else might be possible.

A seaching self-assessment revealed that I was being unhelpful, neurotic and adding to my daughter's burden, not helping to lighten it. They were taking a risk. They knew it, and they had done what they could to minimize the risk. But, as Ariel pointed out, I hadn't raised her to be someone whose life is given by trying to avoid risk. I raised her to be bold and to face life with gusto. She was driving to Costa Rica, she'd stay in touch and she loves me, thank you very much.


I could see where this was headed: She and Jereme would drive off down the road, carrying my concerns right along with their surf boards. I would continue to stew and fret and check my phone every few hours for ransom calls from Central America. Mostly, though, I would feel deep in my heart that I wasn't being true to my daughter. In honoring my worries, I'd lost track of honoring her.

So I called the night before she left. She told me what was done and what was left undone and how ready she felt and didn't feel. And then I said, "Listen, Toots, I can see that I haven't been being helpful to you. I want you to know that I think what you're doing is splendid. I'm proud of you and envious of your great adventure. ..." And she said, "Oh, Mommy, you're going to make me cry. ..." So we cried and talked and I told her the opportunity I was holding fast in my mind and heart is for the two of them -- kinder spirits you will never meet -- to present a positive and compassionate face of America to a world that doesn't see us necessarily as either these days.

"And remember," I said, from the fount of my great wisdom, "it isn't an epic adventure if at least part of it doesn't completely suck."

Jereme was heading out the door as this conversation took place: I told her to tell him to take care of my beautiful baby daughter. He called back across the room, powerfully and with complete confidence, "I will protect her with my life."

Then it was my turn to cry. I knew he would protect her with everything he had, if the occasion ever arose. I love him and trust him completely. I just hadn't realized how much until that moment.

So they hit the road with my enthusiastic blessing -- on their trip, on their choices, on them -- instead of me whimpering softly in the background. I heard the sound of a door softly closing and a future unfolding with verve and courage.

Turning around quickly enough to catch my shadow is not my favorite game. I like being comfortable, even if it's in my misery. But what a relief to have averted the emotional catastrophe of alienation from my dearest and best. And you should read her e-mails: People have been kind, the food is great and surf's up.

Glory be!


Anonymous Darrah said...

Beautiful! It almost made ME cry...

3:00 PM

Blogger KC_Compton said...

T'anks ...

8:17 AM

Anonymous sara swift said...

hello aunt k.c. what a wonderful share. what emotinal maturity and accumen to delve into and master your fears. great stuff. kai ( the new baby's name) is kicking me as i type! can't wait to see you again!

10:54 AM


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