I was working on a series of journaling exercises this week, and one technique was to write an unsent letter to a child. I do not have children of my own, and my sister's daughter is no longer a child. So I wrote a letter to an unknown student, whom I expect to meet next year. This is the letter that I would send that student, and I thought I would share it with you.
Dear student that I will meet next season at the studio:
I know that we have just met and that you are quite young. Your life is so far ahead of you, that you cannot even glimpse the pieces of it. You look down the road ahead of you, and your eyes are not strong enough to even see as far as the horizon. My eyes, however, are much older and stronger. I can see all the way up to the horizon, maybe even beyond, because I have walked all the way to your horizon and even farther -- way farther -- as far as my own horizon. I'll be going back there again today, and I might have a chance to see even farther beyond. Because I have seen much of the landscape that you are likely to come across on your own life walk, let me give you some advice -- the kind of advice that I wish someone had taken the time to tell me when I was your age. My advice will help you to stay on this path and avoid those ragged edges along the shoulders of the road -- the places on the path that will slow you down, pull you off course, and put nails in your way that hurt you.
There will be people in your life who say things that may crush you inside. These people are not bad people, they just say things that are unthoughtful. The words sometimes come out of their mouths without much thought or concern. Perhaps they are tired, hungry, cranky, busy, or distracted by something that seems more important than you and whatever you have asked from them. Because you are so young, it will be difficult for you to understand this. Because you are still able to live in the here and now in the undeniable present moment, you will accept these thoughtless moments as deserving of importance. They are not. When someone tells you something, please accept the truth of it carefully, but better still, learn how to be your own guide and counsellor. Learn for yourself how to evaluate the state of things and the world, your desires and interests, and your love and passions. Learn how to be your own judge of whether you hit the mark, because only you will be able to know deep inside whether you are coming close to following the path that you have chosen to walk. Only you can see inside your head and heart to know whether you are fulfilling your dream. Let you be the one who decides whether you are successful.
There are many successful people today who were not successful for a long time. Although they knew that they were doing the right thing and doing their best work, they were not receiving the praise, encouragement, or acceptance that they thought their work deserved. I am sure that they felt just terrible, disappointed, and perhaps discouraged and lost. I know that I felt that way myself. But something inside them spoke up and demanded that they keep on walking and doing anyway, because their work was worthwhile and good, maybe even visionary. Perhaps the others around them were not ready to receive and therefore could not recognize.
This decision to keep going is a very hard thing to do, so start now working on your ability to do it. You are about to start your music lessons, and you will learn how to work through tricky things from the very first lesson you have with your teacher. Embrace this lesson and learn how to apply it to everything else in your life. As you work on this most important life skill -- the ability to persevere -- let the music that you create give you the cushion that you need to rest your problems, your sorrows, your struggles, your fears, and your joy. Let your music help you to connect with others and more importantly with yourself. Let your music be your vehicle to carry you through the many parts of your life journey. Let your music be your answer to anyone who tells you that you cannot do something or that you fall short of the mark. Let your music be a constant reminder that you have it in you to do the impossible, to believe the incredible, and to endure the unbearable. Learn to listen to the words in your heart first so that your mind will be reassured.
Then, and only then, after you know for yourself what is the truth for you, only then open the door to admit the opinions, thoughts, and words of others. Because now you will have the truthful answer in your heart with which to measure all else. If other's words and pictures do not match those that your heart knows to be true, do not admit them into yourself. Let them bounce off your heart's outer walls and skitter away like confetti into the air. When you do receive truth from another, let it add to the spark inside of you. Embrace it. Let it warm your heart, and cushion your joy.
You will have a long and wonderful journey filled with beauty and knowledge and joy.