I Was Meant To Be

“Here I come screaming out of childhood’s burning barn on a leash too short to reach the person I was meant to be”

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury
by Anindya Chowdhury

Written by Canadian poet Phil Hall, these words come from the book ‘White Porcupine’.

In my mind’s eye, as I re-scan these words, I can see many images.

Initially, as a warning to school teachers: they have – together with parents and society such a large part to play in seeing that our children reach their full potential. What an awesome responsibility!

The author told me his words were written as a result of an old lady – with her writings in hand – asking him if she might have been successful if she’d started earlier in life?

Like someone running a race and coming up short of their expectations … panting from exhaustion … you can almost sense the released energy propelling itself across the finish line, yet without them. So sad is the futility of “success” when we do something, first and foremost, for external recognition forgetting our fundamental obligation to the common good. These wins will ring hollow.

“Oh, Oh, the damage done” – Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young

Paraphrasing Phil Hall, he said that his outstanding book, Killdeer (2011 Governor General’s Award , 2012 Trillium Book Award, and shortlisted 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize) was written to give hope to aspiring authors: that it was okay to be imperfect … be themselves. 

I can also see how important it is to have a positive atmosphere in which to live – young or old.

I remember how, as an accomplished young athlete, being “crucified” – in front of my peers by the excessively negative comments of a coach . I’ll never forgot it and it affected my confidence after words … resulting in declining performance … with no one back home to care.

Is it just because they can, that some people misuse their authority over children? Do they not realize the long-term potential influence they have over young minds, for good or for ill? Although the vast majority of coaching volunteers provide outstanding service to their community, it only takes one… whose careless use of power can undo the fine example set by others.

To some parents, their kids can’t do anything wrong, but all parents should be involved in their children’s pursuits – to aid in positive development and protect them from any form of abuse. Paying for the activity – music, sports, drama, etc. – is not good enough. Parents can’t afford to stand on the sidelines of their kid’s lives. Once kids feel they can’t excel, they won’t.

Of course, at any stage in life, we have to be careful not to push our own agenda onto them and mistakes will be made but there will be no mistaking our love for them, now or forever.

May we always be able to affirm: “… I was meant to be.”

Fred Parry
www.fredparry.ca                                   Sept 2013

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