As I approach the new year, my thoughts swirl and my imagination stretches for tree limbs and ideas beyond the reach of my fingertips. Here’s a conversation between the elderly, woodsy, recluse Miss Henrietta and Lillian… a teen with the world spinning out in a million directions before her.
“Miss Henrietta, what does truth mean with a capital T?
“Child, you do ask tricky questions. Didn’t you want to start today with an easier question? Like what makes rain? Or rainbows? Or what makes the world spin on its axis? Or who made the man who made God, and the man who made the man who made God?”
“Seriously, Miss Henrietta, everyone says I must tell the truth with a capital T. But you told me that Wisdom is wise because it imagines looking through the eyes of others. Like if a hunter shoots a beautiful deer he sees a sacrifice that will feed his family. And the deer might see tragic murder with a gun that leaves the deer family orphans in the tough days ahead. What is the capital T truth of that story?”
“How old are you Lil? Fourteen going on four hundred and fourteen? Darn girl.”
I wrinkled my nose and just gave her my “and so what?” look. So she continued.
“As life developed on this planet, it was important for creatures to know things that were beneficial versus things that could get them injured or killed. Are you with me?”
“Yes, you are talking about A or B choices, things falling into two columns only, black or white, life saving or losing.”
“Right, Lil. Our early human minds facing a meat-eating dinosaur didn’t have time for a philosophical discussion. Fight, flee, or hide were their immediate choices.
“It is frightening to most modern people to consider that there are a million gray tones between black and white. We want a clean answer, “that was right” or “that was wrong.” “Should I do it or not?” Dear Lil, please be suspicious when someone tells you they have all the right answers.
“Well, how do I find the right answers if I can’t rely on other people?”
“Do you know the meaning of the word discernment, Lil? It is the curse and joy of our human minds. We weigh the situation and make a judgment.”
“But you told me that judging is a bad thing. We shouldn’t judge others.”
“Yes, but how do you know if you in your life are making the best choice? You must consider without prejudice all the implications of your actions.”
“Oh heck, Miss Henrietta, it’s easier to know, “this is right and that is wrong.”
“Lil, people your age have the opportunity to make the choices that will steer the rest of their lives. Do you choose to take the more difficult path or the easy way? Do you choose to think with your own unique, exceptional mind or to follow the opinions of others who appear more powerful, better-informed, or smarter than you?
“It’s a decision you can’t ignore. Deciding not to decide, Child, is a choice.”
“Miss Henrietta, you are doing it again. You’re making me think without telling me the easy answers. I’m only 14 years old. I’m not qualified.”
“Lillian A. Bohanan, those are fighting words. Don’t ever try to run that trick by me. Young minds are capable of limitless astounding thoughts. In fact some of the most brilliant scientific discoveries have germinated before the student was 19 years old. Those who tell you that you are not qualified are only trying to control, subdue, and discourage you. My advice is to politely say ‘thank you,’ but deep in your heart, don’t believe it for a minute.
“If each human soul and mind were loaded with the same exact hardware and software, perhaps generalizations could be made about human potential. But each person on this planet is totally unique. Yes, I said totally unique. You are the only you there ever was or will be. And you may not be able to juggle ten balls at a time, or win a race over hurdles, or swim the fastest… but I promise you… you have gifts that no one else on this earth has…or will ever have in future generations.
“But how do I figure out what my skills are or what I might do with my special skills?”
“Now you are asking good questions. You laugh, love, dream, and listen deep inside your person. Some Hindus believe that the holy is in each of us. Namaste means, the part in me that is the divine… recognizes that part in you.”
There are no shortcuts. Dear Lillian, you have embarked on a glorious and difficult journey. You are in good company back through the centuries. If you choose to pretend that you have not seen the expanse of the Universe before you, I still love and support you unconditionally..
I like to envision a world where your spirit has contracted or accepted special challenges, but those are not my business. Those are between you and your gods,.