the hope which has no opposite in fear

The other day, a friend sent me a quote. “This made me think of Brooke,” she said.

To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.

e.e. cummings

The words took my breath. I had nothing.

I tried to sit with them, but the sadness was too much, so I  walked away; I left them alone. But they, as words so often do, refused to leave me alone in return. They knocked on my door and knocked yet again and yet again still, growing increasingly insistent. They would be heard.

So I read them again. And again. And ever so slowly, I found a resolve growing around the sadness. Around the immovable weight of knowing how hard it can be to be my girl in a confusing and often hostile world, my will to help her to create an impenetrable wall of self-esteem grew stronger still.

The world needs our children — ALL of them — to be exactly who they are. Not facsimiles of everyone else, not watered-down versions of themselves to be deemed tolerable to the masses. No, themselves. In all of their messy, beautiful glorious self-ness. If I successfully convey only one message to my daughters, let that be the one. Be wholly, completely, gloriously, divinely, truly who you are.

I went on to read more e.e. cummings because, well, that’s what I do. And I sort of fell in love. Because he says this:

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

And this ..

Whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

And this ..

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

And this ..

I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness

And this ..

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

And this …

Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star…

And pages on pages upon pages upon pages more.

But … the hope which has no opposite in fear?

Wow. I mean wow, right?

And as I devoured more and more of his words, the heaviness was enveloped in something .. well, hopeful. Something encouraging. Something that said, “It can be done.” Something that blew out the context of the picture — made it far bigger, wider, broader than what I had been able to see before.

Something really damned beautiful.


10 thoughts on “the hope which has no opposite in fear

  1. This is beautiful and I do recall Brooke wearing a sweater that she picked out herself with the word, “HOPE” written across the front. WOW, indeed!

    Love you,

  2. Adore e.e. cummings
    (and for some reason always appreciated his lack of capital letters)
    How appropriate and beautiful are the things your friend sent, and the things you found. He was *always* one of my favorites to teach. 🙂

  3. Can I tell you, a friend of mine gave me that quote framed over 20 years ago and told me to never change. I have it hanging in my kitchen for everyone to see. I read it every day to remind myself.

  4. What beautiful words. I have to say that the first quote didn’t make me feel upset about the ways we try to help (some might say force, but I truly hope it doesn’t feel like that) our kids to maneuver in this world. Instead, it actually made me feel supported in the many ways that we do NOT make our children adapt for others’ comfort. Like the way you let Brooke dance on the empty dance floor at the wedding while others ate. We do the same with our son — try to give him more freedom of movement than some parents find acceptable/comfortable, but with the ultimate goal of revealing to him that we find “deep inside [him] something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.” I believe in my soul that these choices we make now, while seemingly little, will resonate in our kids for their entire lives. You are doing something very right, Jess. Not only for Brooke, but also for Katie and for all of the other children whose parents are touched by your work as a parent and an advocate. Including me. I hope you will let yourself believe the truth in that every now and again. XOXO

  5. Pingback: Lørdagslinks | Autismetanken

  6. I am so inspired by this post, and by e. e. cummings. I wish I had discovered his awesomeness before this. But I am glad I am discovering it now–better late than never.

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