To Daughter, 18, Europe-Bound
BELLWOOD CHRONICLES | By Peter Bellwood
You’re off — !!! Leaving Ojai on yet another great adventure — Edinburgh Festival, and on through Europe. How thrilling, and yet how terrifying.
But that’s OK. In my experience, those two feelings always co-exist, cheek-by-jowl, fueling and intensifying each minute.
We will miss you — hell, how could we not feel the absence of such a force of nature as your dear, inimitable self! But it’s exciting for us, too, to see you launch yourself into the vast and all-embracing world.
What fun you’ll have, growing and learning every step of the way.
Mama and I are so old, we only have dim recollections of our first forays into the great beyond — but it sure was a kick!
As and when you’re inclined (or even only after you’ve returned), we want to hear all about it. But I also remember that contact with “folks back home” was never high on my list of priorities. I was too busy having my breath taken away.
As far as I’m concerned, not hearing from you every five minutes is a good sign that you’re up to your eyeballs in the business of living your life, and quite right, too! We will keep you posted on developments here via e-mail as and when appropriate, and will, of course, see you “over there” in the fullness of time.
You just turned 18. According to law and custom, an “adult.” And so you are. But age is a weird thing. I don’t hold much store by it.
There’s no plan. We’re just alive, breathing and open to whatever piques our interest — that’s all that matters.
But your 18th birthday, and your going off to Europe, affords me the opportunity to pay you some compliments for the treasures you have given us.
Your presence in our lives has been the most powerful gift I could ever imagine. You taught me to live in present time, to soften up and let go of so much of the bitterness I used to heap on lesser mortals!
You reminded me that to live life out loud is really the most important thing of all.
As a fine, 17-year-old playwright (who happens to be related to me) wrote: “Love lets you see everything about a person, good and bad. You love it all just the same.” That’s a beautiful thought because its real, and mature. The privilege of appearing at Theater 150 in your play, “The Paper Castle,” is an experience I will never forget.
Your sense of humor is sublime. Your laugh makes me laugh. You are not fake. You’re real … and it makes me examine my reality, and question whether I’m living up to my fullest potential (I’m not … yet!)
So off you go, darling child. Be careful, keep an eye on your things (very important), remember to breathe (your advice to me), watch out for weirdos and drunken Scotsmen — and drunken Englishmen, Frenchmen and Italians, for that matter!
Take it easy. And remember, we’re always here for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All you have to do is call. The Ojai Badger Network will spring into action to support you.
Finally, here’s a pretty poem for you by New England poet Philip Booth (1926-2007). He wrote it for his daughter:
“As you float now, where I held you
And let go, remember when fear
Cramps your heart what I told you:
Lie gently and wide to the light-year
Stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.”
Yes, it will!
Have a ball, my sweet lamb. Mama and I love you with all our hearts.
— Padre Badger XOXOXOXO
(This is a reprint of Bellwood’s column from the Fall 2011 OQ