A letter to my child in a time of plague.
by Kelly Lyonns
The transition points are always difficult to cross. That unknowable shore on the other side. It is the first flutterings of stubby feathered wings plunging bravely into the airy leaves beyond the nest rim. It is the delicious, fizzy trembles of waking into a lecture auditorium taking your seat among the strangers, realising you are now the architect of your life. It is assessing your life and packing up your desk and walking out on a safe but ill-fitting job. Every time we look to change, we face the same tummy-churning moments of fear and indecision.
The same moments. Over and over.
I know this does not help you now. I will not say I have ever faced times as they are now. Perhaps your Grandmother who experienced the great wars can give you better advice, but I cannot.
I know you are not the only one. You keep saying how lucky you are and I have to admire your resilience. But I know you curl up with your TikToc and anime and cry quietly in your room. The soft dreams and nascent plans of what might have been, slowly fading. You didn’t even bother to tell me that you didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits because you are too young and live at home. A matter of months, but rules are rules. It didn’t matter that you have lost the three part-time jobs you so tenaciously clung to all through your long four years of study. It didn’t matter you still have a student loan to pay off. It didn’t matter the jobs you were fighting to get an interview for all dried up. It didn’t matter you have a degree, but not the magical experience everyone wants. It didn’t matter that you are trying to pay your own way, taking those first steps into adulthood.
But there was a reason we named you Captain Courageous even in your first walking steps. Nothing seemed to dampen your sunflower face.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. All I can say is that the world is changing and this too shall pass. The seasons will turn, the petty squabbles of parliaments and humans will scribble greater and lesser crimes in the chronicles of history. Floods and fires and storms will continue to remind us of how much the Earth is in charge. People will continue to rescue puppies, hug trees and worry about single use plastic straws. YouTube will fill with cat videos and people singing parody lyrics and you will find a new future. It isn’t the one you started towards, but it is there. Remember all those faery tales? Well this isn’t the bold, fighty bit where the desperate heroes win against unwinnable odds. It’s the long dreary bit, where they slog through endless bogs and are tested with tedium, fog, rain and old Netflix. But they had to do it to be there for the fight.
Nothing you did, achieved or didn’t achieve, was wasted.
All of the highs and lows have tempered your spirit and you will find that future. You are right, in many ways, you are lucky. Against all the things we have lost, you have not lost us. Everyone has a word that defines them, a talisman if you will. Yours has always been ‘kindness’. It is the quality that you gravitate towards and the one that you use to measure others against. Kindness is a powerful force in the world. It blossoms in the cracks of inhuman horrors, it pushes its shoulders through natural disasters, it whispers against the chanting crowds of hatred, it nudges indifference and jostles the elbows of the complacent.
It is your shield, buckler and sword.
I know the first questing tendrils of your independent life have curled back, hesitant and unsure. But I have faith in you and I have faith in the future. You have the power to imagine a new future unshackled to the old. Take this time to reset your compass.
You’ve got this, and much more.
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.
Reader of romance and science fiction. Practicing cat-herder. Frequently succumbs to the need to write. Rarely succumbs to the need to vacuum.
She also has a website at http://kalyonnswrites.weebly.com/ and http://www.longnightcafe.com/