My husband wanted to share an important story, one that shows how family, taking a leap (or in his case, crossing a continent and ocean) and gaining life experience play a role in shaping your views and perspectives on the world and life.
I was 17 years old when I left the comforts of my parents home and headed to university in Canada. The prospect of me living on my own with no parental supervision, with a continent and an ocean dividing us got me really excited! This was a beginning of a new chapter in my life. It was time
Leading up to my departure, as I was getting ready to start “my journey” I was getting advice every day from everyone. My parents, my sister, distant relatives, friends, people from the neighbourhood, anyone and everyone who wanted to give advice. Now much of it was unsolicited, but I pretended to listen and take them seriously (I was a 17 — remember? I was going to figure it out on my own and take on the world). But there was one piece of advice that I will always remember and I remember the occasion like it was yesterday.
The day before I was going to get on a plane, the mood at home was a bit ‘gloomy’. My dad came home early in the afternoon and asked if I wanted to go for a drive with him. Without hesitation, I agreed and we spent the next few hours driving around the neighbourhood and we shared stories. He took me to the playground where I used to play cricket with my friends, the grocery store where I got ‘lost’ (turns out that my parents where in the other aisle, but try telling that to a 3 yrs old!), and the spot where I used to wait for my school bus. It was then I realized that me leaving is not only the beginningof a new chapter for me, it was also the beginning of a sad but beautiful new chapter for my family that I would be leaving behind. At that time, I obviously couldn’t fathom how it must feel for parents to watch their child(ren) “grow up” and then leave.
Hours had passed and before we got home, my father said ‘Gibran, Be Brave’. I nodded and thanked him for that advice while my indiscretionary male youth mind kept saying ‘yeah yeah dad I am brave… I got this’. My 17 year old mind didn’t know what he exactly meant and why he would say that- doesn’t me moving miles and miles away from home to study prove that I am brave?
Even when I had moved to Canada and settled into life here, whenever we would talk on the phone he would always end the conversation with the same advice- it sort of became a running joke with friends and family here. I obviously still didn’t get it.
Its only been in the past two years that I finally began to understand and appreciate what my father meant. (It’s amazing how your perspective and priorities change when you have kids.) I guess in his own way, without saying it he wanted to say that they can’t protect me anymore and that life will have it’s share of downs, which requires courage and grace to overcome. I, sometimes still think about the drive we took almost a decade ago and I still remember the faces in the car- those faces have come a long way and now, they look a little weathered.
It has got me thinking …. what advice would I give my own daughter when its time for her to begin a new chapter? How will I feel watching her go?
The advice that I got a decade ago and laughed at turned out to be the only advice that matters the most to me.
Thanks Abba, I finally get it.