We had just bought out eldest daughter, Tanya, her first bike. It’s a princess bike, and she flipped out over it. So excited, thrilled, overjoyed. She wanted to immediately show it off to the world.
Later in the day, she was out with it and saw one of her friends. An older girl who Tanya admires and clearly wants approval from. She shows her bike off proudly, beaming, and spoke about the music it plays, the sparkles, etc. She was so excited and proud.
The girl immediately rolled her eyes. When Tanya told her about the music, the girl covered her ears and said, “Ugh, that’s so annoying.” As Tanya kept trying to share her excitement the girl shut off more and more.
Rivka could tell that this incident had deeply affected Tanya for hours. She was quiet afterwards, and thoughtful. And clearly hurt.
I remember when Rivka related this to me, my heart absolutely broke for my little Tanya. To have enthusiasm smashed to pieces as a young child is extremely painful. And… I’ve seen it happen to my daughter quite a bit in this neighborhood. Full of joy and excitement, the culture of strength and internal power here (as well as bullying) has had a profound effect on the way Tanya experiences her time here.
But this isn’t about our neighborhood. It’s more about what seems to be so accepted in the Western world: the notion that sensitivity is weakness. That critique is more powerful than joy. That coldness supersedes warmth. I experienced this myself as a child, which I believe is why I identify so strongly with Tanya’s pain in this and other incidents (besides her being my daughter).
I’ve seen it also growing, this attitude. On the Internet, it seems impossible to say a word without someone jumping out of nowhere to give a critique. In a way, smug, cold criticisms can be so much worse than just plain attacks. At least we don’t see most attacks as valid.
It is no wonder to me that a child behaved this way to my daughter because I see it every day in the people who raise, or will one day raise, their own children. We live in a world of logic over creativity. Coldness over warmth. Competition over cooperation.
And it’s easy to downplay. Just an attack here. A trill there. A harsh word, what’s the harm?
But these cold words are seen in a different light when we see the effect that have on our children. Ive seen that pure joy get snuffed out of my daughter’s eyes. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Because each time it happens, it’s like a fire has been put out in her. And worse, she may take this coldness into her, spread it to others.
The fire, the enthusiasm, in us is not some sort of bonus reserved for special people. It is for all of us, it is what we ARE until it’s taken by foreign forces. We need to grip it with all our force, no matter the social (media) influences in our lives. We need to keep our fire alive. It is no small thing. It is everything.
When a snotty critic wrote about a piece of writing as, “Mere enthusiasm,” William Blake wrote an angry reply:
“Mere enthusiasm is the all in all!”
So when you see someone sniffing it out, trying to sniff it out of you or someone you care about remember that. And remember something else: the cold may spread from person to person, but fire spreads faster than ice ever will.
Disease makes news; health doesn’t. Suicide makes news; all the people who go on living despite depression don’t. Evil makes news; all the goodness goes unnoticed. The great miracle of life and of God’s handiwork is that despite pockets of evil and disease, the vast majority of life is good, bright, healthy, happy and holy. Celebrate life, soak up the goodness, reflect joy, breathe love.
The words inside of you speak your truth,