I was a huge collector of quotes in middle school, scribbling them into notebooks, hanging them in my locker, placing them in my ridiculous AIM away messages, using them as hooks for my atrocious five paragraph essays. So when I started brainstorming for the 8th grade graduation speech I was to deliver with my friend, Ross, I looked to quotations for inspiration. I knew Ross’ speech was going to be pithy and witty, so I was going for a lyrical, sentimental thank you to all the people who had helped us get through life until that point (it seemed like such a huge turning point at the time, and it was, I guess, in a sense… sort of).
I was struggling in my search for the perfect quotation until my mom handed me The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, a famous Lebanese writer and artist born in 1883. If you were around in the 1960’s, The Prophet would not be an unfamiliar work to you–the collection of poetic, philosophical essays on topics ranging from friendship to freedom to eating was widely read as part of the counterculture and New Age movements… It sounds a bit out there, I admit, and it is, but there is some wisdom hidden under all that sentimentality.
Anyways, this is the section of The Prophet that I read at the beginning of my 8th grade graduation speech as a sort of a not-so-veiled message to parents about letting go. Who knows how much of it I understood then. Or now, really.
Also, thank you, mom. =)
From The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.