I am fortunate. I live in a beautiful neighborhood that has the gift of maturity. In many of today’s “Jiffy Pop” neighborhoods, the tallest trees are often shorter than I am. Often you have to stick around many years, decades even, to appreciate and see shade than can connect from one sidewalk to the other from the trees’ shaded umbrella.
I walk our neighborhood. The neighbors take pride in their yards and I take pride in their taking pride. It makes the walks that much more pleasurable. The city in which I live will eventually get around to the little blemishes that occur from the aforementioned maturity and our harsh Midwest winters. The sidewalks buckle and crack from the trees’ roots claiming victory over man’s attempt to subdue nature’s progression with man-made concrete walkways.
My morning walk allowed me to plod along my familiar path. Down the street, passing ten dwellings, crossing the lane, I continued along passing a field that flanks our neighborhood elementary school. Due to recent construction there, part of the fence parted allowing the trucks passage, and there was a patch of ground brown with dirt where grass should be. Seed was planted but not yet rooted. I could tell the sidewalks were new due to their tell-tale dark battleship grey tint. It was still drying. Square number one was christened with the words: “I RULE” signed “E.B.”
My humblest response:
I remember the days of my youth, assuming you are young, unhampered by self-doubt, and all the zest for life a young heart can create. I remember dreaming on the playground, role-playing great adventures. I remember welcoming my friends to join, adding thrill to the adventure. No dream too lofty, no adventure too forbidden.
I ruled too. I ruled my destiny and my soul burned with the promise of my own growth. The world was my oyster, my treasure chest, my love, and my passion. I had not let the voices of doubt become frequent dialogue that could infiltrate my ability to withstand the taunts of the naysayers.
E.B. – indeed you rule, and perhaps you may not know what your kingdom is, but never believe your obstacles outweigh your deserving. Sometimes the king finds his crown at the top of the highest mountain or at the bottom of the abyss. We never know if it is victory of pain that bestows upon us our praise and recognition.
Let your voice be heard above that of simple graffiti. Do not hold back your pain and anger by screaming in your pillow. Let your voice be heard and let it ring far and wide. Only then will your honest and open show of your own humanity gain for you that which you seek. The meek may inherit the Earth, but the noble, wise, and strong are those who often lead. Never forget though if you wish to be revered by humans, you must remain one. Compassion dear E.B.; compassion is essential.
As you age, as you draw nearer to your goal, remember to govern yourself first. Find the joy of being connected to who you truly are. Find the stillness and happiness in being able to enjoy your own being. Trying to seek approval from the masses is daunting, and more so draining if you lose your own identity. Find skill in your own personal management.
Also, practice the skill of silence. Sometimes the best rulers are those who give others a chance to shine. Restrain from being the first to need adoration, and allowing others to bask in the glow of their own personal achievement is truly a noble trait. The best rulers respect their own shortcomings, and surround themselves with those who have mastery beyond their own skills.
E.B., I admit now that life has presented me with a variety of challenges. Some have dealt me crippling blows. However I am still here. I will also admit that my ability to profess that “I RULE” at much at all has dwindled. Maybe I did not listen soon enough to my own advice. Don’t let others try to steal your scepter. When you stop believing you are worthy, others follow suit.
“Rule?” I am not sure if I really want to rule much. However the bold statement of a youth who still has dreams unimpeded and a sense of self-esteem that will leverage his or her dreams into fruition, I bow to you. You indeed rule, and I pray your tenure does not include term limits.
I frequently pass this square on my walk. I check for E.B.’s message. It took only a couple of weeks for either nature or the skilled trowel of a worker to erase the message. I hope the enthusiasm that inspired the initial act of graffiti has not waned. I also hope that the only expression of E.B.’s confidence extends beyond vandalism and into positive creation of action that propels this person into that which he or she professed in cement. I also hope the skilled trowel of society, opinion, and unrealistic expectations do not smooth the passion of this youth. Godspeed E.B., and if you are going to mark up any more sidewalks, please use chalk.