There are a few spells around, beliefs that are so common we hardly notice their insidious impact on how we lead our lives.
Like when we tell a child “You can be anything you want to be”, without us actually having any way to know what that child’s potential truly is.
Potential has no definite shape, nor a given end. It’s amorphous and limitless.
Under the spell of potential a child will always fall short, growing accustomed to never being all that she has been told she can be. She loses sight of her true value, and her natural capacity for belonging slowly withers.
You, I and our children cannot be anything we want to be. That’s good news.
Because once we recognize the spell for what it is–another expression of a culture that has fallen ill from all kinds of abstraction and excess–we can begin to accept who we actually are.
Most of us are quite ordinary, we suffer and we struggle, we are gifted in ways that bring us joy and some kind of income to help meet our needs, and if we’re fortunate, we have a place where we know the land and the people in it well enough to feel at home.
If we can accept the confines of our selves, we can more readily value our child for who he or she actually is. Then the child’s gifts, such as they are, become surprising treasures, tended through discipline, and complementing the gifts of others.