Letter To My Younger Self by Basia Miller

Dear Basia,

I thought just now I heard you crying at your Chicago kitchen sink, back in January 1977. Well, I was up early here in Santa Fe in January 2017 and was crying too, over the new regime in Washington. Maybe this is just the right time for me to write down some things I’ve learned in the last 40 years and share them with you.

Because of the baby and the 5-year-old, the absent husband and the distracted babysitter—whose pay equals your own—you’ve decide to quit your job. Your world is collapsing around you, and you think you’re supposed to hold it together. Worse yet, there’s a great desert in your heart.

All that’s going on could make you feel despair. Here’s a straight-up instruction : Don’t let it. True, your desert is growing cactuses, while the real world, invisible now, is going to offer you its kindnesses, rains and gardens. You’ll do your part by letting them in. But the world, with its chancy, multiple and sometimes inscrutable energy, can only do so much. To actively accept it is crucial, and how that comes about is what I can only call the great mystery.

One thing I’d suggest for coping is doing a great deal of nothing. Stare out the window. Watch the birds. Cultivate down-time. Everyone deserves a childhood and you were scanted in that. You can create one at age 40. In one of his songs, Bob Dylan sings, « I’m younger than that now, » another way of saying you can work toward innocence. That’s not to say things won’t get worse before they get better.

Another big move will be to work on « give. » Right now you’re oriented not so much toward taking, but toward raising walls (there you are, trying to hold up the whole world !). It’s beautiful to create long sight-lines, get a sense of balance, practice balanced relationships instead of thinking you’re 100% responsible. Giving makes you feel safe and joyful as if grace had descended on you and nurtured your inner life.

There’s also love-making, therapy, meditation—so many ways of allowing the great world in—but I’ll leave them for another time. I hope this doesn’t all seem hopelessly abstract. Believe this is a loving message about growth and aging where you take a part in shaping it. I know you’ll work hard at it and I wish you the very best.

love always,


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