During a poetry therapy workshop I recently took, I wrote the following:
Fear and change are part of the inevitability
We shape the narrative
We name the poem
Whatever magic can supply - well, sprinkle it like snow
But know that magic is not your voice
You are your voice
Check the food, take a walk, meet a friend, say no
These are the ingredients of change
These are the days of your life
This is the time; not later
Like orange in Autumn seize the spark in you
I literally got inspired on a walk around my neighborhood. While I cannot travel the world like some of my friends, I can travel my street, the leaves that change from splashes of yellow to hues of gold light up my brain like a piece of chocolate. You can harness that light through your senses. Sit a while. Walk through sorrow and suffering which are part of life. Change is the only constant.
Young adults don't seem to know this. Their ideas of predictability and perfection are woefully out of touch with reality. This is because their brains only know how to process in the extremes. More subtle but invaluable tools are yet to come. Tools like seeing the grey areas; having to wait or work for something imperfect and hard; realizing that you have to talk to someone else about something difficult and you may not like the answer; understanding that patience is part of growth; figuring out that what your partner/boss/boyfriend/inner child/inner critic/parents want can fluctuate; taking a risk to grow and not be guaranteed every outcome; knowing that loss may also involve welcoming something new; caring about someone who doesn't reciprocate; developing trust when your childhood lacked it; these are all things young adults can MASTER if they try. Lying under the covers will get you nowhere.
I know that the world is becoming extreme. That the Internet, with its great promise for equality and freedom for many, has turned out to be a disappointment - its emphasis on false data and hate. How promising it would have been if we had used it as a source for good, democracy, decency and fairness. Perhaps it is yet to come, if we don't demolish our institutions before it's too late. I get the despair and the hurt of so many. My life wasn't half as secure as my kids'. But I try to hold space for myself. It's hard when I'm grieving about so many things.
Here is a teen brain vs. adult brain:
Now tell me why we put so much pressure on the most vulnerable. The brain takes its time to develop and form connections, as we know. Many areas of executive function such as planning, judgment, consequences, organization and peer relationships are all still growing over these critical years. Add to this, the costs of the middle class not keeping pace with the price of gas, healthcare, and food, we are hemmed in by our choice to go to college or help our aging parents or have time to be part of our communities, spending time with our kids. We have been locked out by a society based on greed, leaving many young adults alone, isolated and lagging behind.
We can focus on the colors; we can say a prayer. But stopping at black and white is not leading us anywhere. Be the brightness of solstice light.