Turn 32. Recognize the Day of Birth in ways you did not before. Now that you are a mother, understand that this day, that this life, is not yours alone. There is a debt you must pay to the people who brought you here. There is a debt you must pay to the girl your body opened up–like a whale expelling Jonah–to release.
Know now that the time you have spent convincing yourself of an intrinsic unworthiness was not yours to waste. Those interminable years you whiled away, in conflict with yourself, could well have been spent slaying dragons, climbing Everests, loving deeply and well. Reset your internal clock accordingly.
Recognize that your worries–about the traction of your ability, about the accessibility of your talent, about your value–were the shallow trifles of the bourgeoisie. Women like you cannot afford to laze about on a chaise lounge of loftiness, noshing on the bon-bons of inaction. You–the gypsies, the transients, the intermittently penniless, the debt-laden, the mothers–must walk the length of deserts, must fashion a bridge of rejection letters, must set sail away from inadequacy, tossing overboard inattentive men, and finally, upon a new shore, must drill down to the marrow of your souls and extract the dreams you’ve buried there.
Remind yourself that this painful drilling need never have occurred, if only you’d kept your goals at the fore and tended them the way you do the face you so constantly lament isn’t lovely enough.
Repent of the audacity it has taken to thumb your nose at God. Tell Him what he has given you is potent. Your words evoke tears, evoke action. They occupy hearts, link arms, sit-in, sing songs that overcome. They stir the reader, alert him to the need for revolution, compel him to broaden his capacity for love.
Shame on you for re-enacting the parable of the talents, for burying all that you’ve been given, because it looked too meager to present before kings.
Beg forgiveness. Promise that, should He be gracious enough to let you keep these gifts, you will treat them as gold, not tin. They will no longer be susceptible to tarnish.
Give more to the world. Do not gaze at its magnificent surface, full of the colorful impressions of history’s trillions, and say: there is no space left for me. Leave your you-shaped imprint; none other is like it.
Concede that the artist is a public servant. But never surrender your growth to the public’s expectation. Should you find yourself in a box, obliterate its walls.
Believe those who tell you they cherish your work. You hear this often enough to trust it. Do not dismiss true praise as hype. Question those who would proclaim you the Next Whomever. You hear this often enough to be wary. Do not mistake hype for earnestness.
Finally, in pursuits of love, be kind to yourself. You were never meant to be the girl who pined for disinterested men. You always did, perhaps because it is easier to court rejection than to give all of yourself to the pyres of love. Be no man’s second choice. Be the echo at the end of the cavern into which he yells, in search of interchangeable women’s companionship. Be the voice he longs to hear again, now that he knows he never will. Do not become a salted pillar for him.
Instead, dance wildly at the water’s edge and bring your little girl. She must see what it means to at last be free from desiring far less than you should have.
Be assured: someone will be watching. And a love unlike any you’ve known will ignite itself within him.
But regardless of whether he approaches, regardless of whether he has learned to circumvent self-sabotage, you must slather on your war paint, with the girl on your hip. Begin to deliver your words to the larger space, honor them in ways you haven’t before, and watch them transform: tiny airless things at first, slowly yawning into giants.