Leaders & Daughters - To My Daughter

For Roshni

Dear Roshni:

For months before you were born, I knew your name. I had not focused on it previously, but it felt at the time like a concept that fit who you were going to be. As you know, “Roshni” means sunshine. It represents the enlightened one, someone who is lit from within. I did not know then that my aspiration for who you would become would be fulfilled in every way and then some. I did not know you would personify your name with grace; that you would truly grow up to be someone who is lit from within.

As I write this letter to you, I want to remind you of a sage piece of advice we have shared with each other,  and that has been given to each of us by loved ones dear to us over the years; life is not a check list. It is a journey where every fork in the road requires us to follow our instincts, to have the courage to care, to see beyond the obvious to what really matters, to be willing to fail, and to rise up again to try another day. You live your life according to this creed, even while you have an intense work ethic and a great sense of humor. Instead of giving you great advice on who to become, I present instead to you a snapshot of the magnificent human you are already. I want you to always see yourself in the mirror – so you don’t lose sight of yourself.

One of the gifts you have given me and many others in your life over the years is your understanding and encouragement. Through good times and in trying times, you never fail to understand. When I felt guilty for missing many relevant events in your life and being sometimes more absent than present because I traveled the world and loved what I did, you never failed to convey that you understood. That you knew I was fulfilled, happy and crazy busy; racked with guilt, but filled with love. You never lost an opportunity to make me feel like that was just all right. That being me was enough. That I did not need to be more. And that I had an obligation to never be less. You assured me that you were proud of me and that you were not looking (only for want of a better word) a checklist parent. One who was able to be there at every event of note (and we both love and admire those who can and do show up always). Instead, it seemed as though I was just fine the way I was. You said, “Mom, you are always there for me – it is not the events you attend, but how present you are in how you care for me.”

I would turn this back to you to say there is no greater gift that you have given me or one that matters more than this one – your deep understanding of, and caring for, who I am and am not. You allowed me to drop all the guilt I felt as a working mom and instead to celebrate the fierce love we have for each other. This instinct you have, this warrior of love in you that encourages others to see the best in themselves, is precious. This caring eye of yours that sees beyond the obvious and into the soul of what someone really needs – don’t ever, ever lose it. When your rational mind tells you there are three logical choices ahead of you, but none of them feel right – make the fourth choice. Go where your heart tells you to go – because there is something about you that wraps your intellect and your brilliance in a caring cloth that makes you a master intuitive – and I would ask you to hold that dear no matter what you do.

I remember our dear friend asking you why you were choosing to focus your education on the arts and not on something else. And you said, “Art has to come from your soul and it has to be honest. If you are not a team on stage, everyone knows it. If you are not putting everything you have into what you are doing, everyone knows it. You have to work as a team, do your absolute best, make a deep connection with those in the audience and draw them into your world, accept rejection and learn from what didn’t work, fall and get up the next morning – ready to do it all over again. If putting yourself out there 1000%, being willing to fail and being resilient enough to stand up and do it again isn’t preparation for life, I don’t know what is.” Those were such wise words coming from someone so young, and that wisdom is the next thing I would ask you hold dearly on to.

You are wise, well beyond your years – hold on to that. You are brave and hardworking and not afraid of failure. And when you see challenges in front of you, you tend to run right toward them and not away from them. You are always learning – and you know you have SO much to still learn. You are willing to take risks and put yourself out there – to fail, to succeed, to rise and to triumph. You thrive on teamwork, and love the souls of other “creatives.”

Life will likely, at times, bring you much hardship and incredible sorrow, even as it brings you amazing joy and success. No matter what though – follow your instincts, stay true and fierce, pay attention to your heart, keep caring and keep learning – and all else will be what it is. Who you are, why you are the way you are, how you love and care for others will be why people will miss the light you brought into their lives while you were with them. That, my dear, is the most memorable thing about any of us during our short time on earth – how we make others feel. Do we really see them? Do we truly hear them? Are we truly present when we are with them? You have always taught me from a very young age that you want to live your life in a way that inspires trust, evokes love, and makes those around you feel heard, seen, valued and special. Stay you, and don’t ever doubt that – everything else will follow.