from Banshee - Monday, February 16, 2004
accessed 1285 times
I walked the empty halls of my son’s school tonight, on my way to a late parent-teacher conference. The only sounds echoing in the silent halls were the squeaking wheels of the super’s cleaning trolley mingling with the scuffing shoes of the other few parents who also were trying to squeeze the last drops out of their tired, overdrawn schedule.
There was a faint smell touching my senses, and I realized it was vaguely familiar to me before placing it in my own memories from my regretfully brief jaunt in First Grade. I absently wondered if perhaps all elementary schools used the same industrial cleaner. Or wax.
I walked slowly, taking in the murals and paintings and collages that peppered the walls along the hall, feeling like I was in an infant art exhibit that hadn’t yet grown up. One paper weaving arrested my attention, and I marveled at the intricacy of the pattern and the surprisingly advanced color concept that didn’t match the age written in child’s scrawl at the bottom of the artwork. I smiled to think that perhaps one day the art world would know this name, and the world will thank the ones that gave her the chance to follow her dream.
Surprising me with the suddenness that my own sense of loss sprang up, a lump lodged in my throat that threatened to bring tears. Swallowing quickly, and turning away, I realized just how near the surface the pain of lost opportunities and crushed dreams of my youthful hopes were, in spite of the many hours I have spent telling myself that now I must focus on recovering those very losses in the opportunities I will give my children, that they may have the chance to stand before the world with every possibility open to them; to hold their lives in their hands, and build their own destinies with the choices that I never had.
But sometimes I still want to cry for those losses.
In the movie “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”, Chuck Barris’ character (played by Sam Rockwell) says, "When you're young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein. You might be Dimaggio. Then you get to an age where what you might be gives way to what you have been. You weren't Einstein. You weren't anything. That's a bad moment." I’ve been having that bad moment for a long, long time.
But that infinite potential was not something that I gave up. It was not something I tossed away. It was taken from me. It was not taken from me by parents that didn’t see it, or by an inadequate education due to over-crowed schools and government cut-backs. It was not taken away from me by a life of poverty, or by the location of my upbringing. It was taken from me before I even had it. It was taken from me the moment I took my first breath. It was taken from me the day I was born into the cult.
For every baby born into “The Family of Love,” another infinite potential was lost. Another doctor that might have healed the world of cancer. Another scientist that might have given us natural fuel. Another anthropologist that might have discovered another link to the earth’s origin. Another Mozart, or Bach, or Picasso, or Dante. Every time a baby was born into the cult, the world lost another possibility.
Sometimes I still want to cry for each lost possibility. Mine…yours…ours. I want to cry, but there are no tears left. We have cried them all out. Together we have wept for each other, for our brothers, our sisters, and for ourselves. We have laid the flowers on the grave of our births, and turned our backs to it.
And we have started again.
We have taken back that which was stolen from us, as we walked away from the chains of our past. We have had our second birth, into a world where we once again can find our potential--whether it be infinite or not--we are each one, in our own way, reclaiming our future. Some may burst into their new unbounded life like a show of fireworks, others come more quietly or slowly, and others are busy bringing others with them, but we are all coming into our new lives, into our potential.
Sometimes it seems so difficult, and so unfair. We have come with a greater struggle than most will ever know, and some of us will have to struggle for many years to come, but then I realize that with a greater price comes a greater treasure. There are not many people who can cherish life and all its’ possibilities the way we can, for the very reason that we have had to struggle for them. We have won our freedom the hard way. We have paid for it literally with our blood, our sweat, and our tears. Freedom was not given to us; we cannot take it for granted.
And through our struggles and our pain, we make a way for others to glimpse that freedom, and find a way to reach for it themselves. Because of us, there will come a day when no more futures are snuffed out at birth. Someday there will no longer be a child born in chains.