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From placenta to play centre

Advice for a new life

Term 3 of the 2012 school year has commenced around Australia, and with it restarts the manic weekday-morning routines, the unrelenting schedule of drop-offs and pick-ups; the ever-so-polite enquiries of ‘what did you do at school today?’; and the linguistically economical replies of ‘nothing’.

Far be it from me to be the bespectacled straw that breaks the over-tired, slightly cranky, oh-god-I-still-need-to-cook-dinner camel’s back.

And so, in the hope of being like the cool primary school teacher who lets the class play ‘heads down thumbs up’ in an idle moment, I thought I’d try something different. This fortnight, I’d like to conduct a thought experiment, with you as the participants.

Thought experiment

Imagine for a second that you are holding a sleeping infant in your arms. She is one day old, and barely had a taste of the world she now finds herself in. She has a long life ahead of her; full of triumphs and tragedies; laughter and tears; love and loss. She lies swaddled in a blanket, completely unaware that she has just embarked on her longest journey of all.

Imagine that you are given five minutes in which you can communicate to her advice for her new life. A five minute pep-talk in which you can feed her the essence of your own journey, before turning her around, patting her on the bottom, and saying “go get ’em tiger”.

What advice would you give her?


For regular readers of this column – all two of you (thanks Mum and Dad!) – you’ll remember that I attempted to do just this for my new niece.

It was quite a fun exercise, though made infinitely more complex by my clumsy attempt at dispensing the advice through poetry (I can hear you groan).

Before I present my own contribution, I would like to issue the challenge to the hive mind to participate in this thought experiment, and share your own reflections. We all thrive and struggle under the same human condition, and it’s more than likely that any of your own musings will give the rest of us cause for ponder.

And so, with great trepidation, I humbly submit my own meagre offering.

A million apologies to Wordsworth, Shelley, every single one of my English teachers, and…well… anyone who can rhyme ‘cat’ and ‘hat. I know not what I do.

For your new life…

To find your fervour amidst the jumble
And wear it without conceal or flaunt.
To follow your paths, plural and humble,
Enjoying all you have, while pursuing all you want.
To seek out the moments that reward with a band,
Marching with triumph to the beat of a drum,
But know that the truly heroic will stand
Experienced alone and witnessed by one.

To while away the lonely hour,
With thoughts of deeds long gone.
And collect from them, the unpicked flower
Then, with every breath, move on.
To dream away the marching hour,
With tales yet to be told.
And make every breath your lasting power
To change what will unfold.

To wake in the woods with truth mislaid
Shows nought more than you were born to this earth.
To dare the fractured spirit when fears pervade,
To rouse, to crave, to share its worth.
To hold on to hope when all is adrift,
And hold on long enough to see,
That you possess in your hand the greatest gift,
To be the person you want to be.

To smile at king and pauper alike,
And remember their journey too.
To run with one or crowds alike
Without losing the essence of you.
To overwhelm the doubting foe,
Who wash upon your shore,
And know what was special about that blow
Was the hundred that went before.

To dance around with aching love,
To kiss the quenching breeze.
To embrace the sweeping skies above
To answer the whispering trees.
To touch the newly risen sun,
To breathe in as it falls
And seek not peace in chasing its run,
But from the warmth and colour it scrawls.

To cheer the lot of friends as yours,
Be it made of straw or stone.
And, if required, bend your knee without pause.
To rebuild their lot or your own.
To live the length, both tame and wild
And the breadth of triumph and strife.
But most of all our treasured child,
Enjoy your wondrous and precious life.

Next fortnight, we’ll be back to the science of child development. In the meantime, I’d love to hear the advice that you would offer a newborn about the life they have ahead of them.

I’ll give you bonus points if it rhymes.

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