Who You Are

Never forget who you are.

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We crouch near a rock covered in several types of moss. I support your body as you lean over the vibrant layers. Your pudgy little fingers explore, gently weaving between fern-like fronds, slowly plucking dried pine needles from the soft green bed. I see the fascination in your eyes and I want to tell you that, like the moss, you are made of raindrops and sunrays and damp earthen minerals. I want to beg you never to forget it, but I bite back the plea and let the moss and the rock and the old pine needles tell you instead.

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Cold seawater swirls around our bare ankles as we slowly progress, step by step, bent at the waist, watching for movement. Suddenly, we see it. The sideways scuttle from one patch of seaweed to the next. Your little hand plunges and then emerges, carefully clasped around the small body. You cup your palms as I have taught you, cautious so as to avoid crushing the fragile life within. The crab’s legs fold and then extend and I know they are tickling your palm but you remain still. We bend closer and see two little eyes. A tiny creature in a vast ocean. You beam in delight and I want to tell you that, like the crab, an invisible web weaves between you and the sun and the seaweed and the gulls crying overhead and the whales majestically massive further out at sea. But I close my mouth and open my eyes and watch as you release the crab. The moment of delight carries the truth through your body far better than my words ever could.

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For days, we follow the tracks in the snow. We imagine the journey taken at night while we sleep in our beds. The prints wind between pines, scamper over fallen logs and we follow, noses bent to the ground, hearts leaping with each new pawmark. And then, one winter afternoon, we see her. She races across the lawn and I gather you up in my arms and follow from one window to the next. We stand behind the last pane and watch as she pauses, one paw lifted, nose to the air. And then she turns. With a flash of bushy red tail, she disappears into the dark of the forest. In my arms, you are rigid with wonder. I want to tell you that you, too, are muscle and hair and graceful, dashing aliveness and, like the fox, at the mercy of weather and shelter and the need for the next meal. But I stay silent and feel my own heart pound with wonder. I let the howl of the wind and the disappearance of the fox speak to you instead.

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Whether the wide, arching flight of an eagle, the dance of waving pine branches or the new white flower of the water lily, petals forming a perfect cup – let each remind you of nothing so much as this: you, too, soar. The wind moves through your veins. Your body is designed for a purpose. And like the eagle and the pine and the water lily, you depend on the grace of each ray of light, each drop of rain, each mineral in the soft, moist earth and the many, many creatures that make these essentials possible. You are wild, but you are not independent. And why would you wish to be? With that invisible web comes the greatest truth of all, as whispered by the moss’s soft curl, the crab’s gentle tickle and the fox’s alert pause. You are never, ever alone.

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