To do justice to the process of the writing of this upcoming book on "Letting go", I also need to identify where the content of this book came from.
I believe the path I took in life was heavily influenced by my father.
As you can tell from this photo of my father and me, I adored him. Here I am all dressed up with a huge white ribbon in my curly hair, perched on my tricycle, sharing a moment with my father. He was my everything -- and I needed him desperately during those first few years of my life.
I am told that our early childhood stories are important to us and have the power to define us. I had two versions of my beginnings. The first story I heard was that I was born at the wrong time -- right in the middle of the Fraser River flood that traumatized our entire village. I was born the wrong gender. After two daughters, my mother had hoped to present her husband with the son that he wanted. And I was also the wrong temperament -- I cried endlessly.
I didn't need to hear these stories very often to discern the underlying message -- I was not a wanted child. One doesn't need a degree in psychology to know the pitfalls of being an unwanted child. Of course I suffered from some of that -- but I feel it could have been worse except I had a father who cared.
Even though he must have been highly disappointed that I wasn't a boy, he still paid attention to me. The first thing he did for me was to tell me an entirely different story of my beginnings. He told me that he had enormous fun with me as a baby. “You were amazingly strong,” he said. “Stiff as a board. I could balance you on my hand when you were a baby – and you would just stand there.” He laughed. It sounds as if it was a little like a circus act that we performed together. I think there is a picture of that somewhere as well.
He bragged about the fact that I had walked early. I was only eight months old when I took my first steps.
Instead of describing me as a crying baby, he told me that I was remarkably unafraid even as a young child. He said that I had never cried when I was hurt or startled as we roughhoused around the living room playing bucking bronco -- with him as the horse and me the rider. According to him, I was independent, strong, and accomplished.
I still find it remarkable that the man who had the most to lose at the time of my birth was the one whose love I felt the most keenly during those early years.
"We are most alive when we are loved." John Updike