In Wildness is the Preservation of the World- Henry David Thoreau

My grandpa and I didn't get along very well. I was too strong-willed for him. I remember a particularly deep rift resulting from an argument had over the dinner table about fair versus free trade when I was about fourteen. As the rest of my family uneasily witnessed, my grandpa and I yelled at each other, finally ending the 'debate' when my grandpa said, "You don't know what you're talking about." It took me a long time to rationalize the conflicting feelings of loving a person because they are family yet ardently disagreeing with them politically. I believe many people face this conundrum. 


Towards the end of his life, I got along much better with my grandfather. He suffered from dimension and contrary to how many people deal with the disability, he was friendlier during his confusion bouts. I liked him that way, we could just joke around and be silly together. 


Now that my grandfather has passed away, my husband and I live in his house. One of the very few relics from his time here is a framed poster on the living room wall. "In Wildness is the Preservation of the World." It's a Sierra Club poster and I marvel at it for multiple reasons. I don't think he was ever an environmentalist, I certainly cannot imagine him calling himself one. Somehow, this quote by Thoreau rings out more universal truths to me. I sit on the living room floor with my daughter in the evenings and ponder the poster. 

 

In my current state, being a new mother, I find a parenting philosophy embedded in these words. At a time when the discussion of helicopter vs. free-range parenting has hit a high, I think about what my relationship to my child. Over the past seventeen months, I think my daughter has trained us, her parents, more than we have trained her. I see her as a force of nature, a pure being who brings out my worst and best qualities. I see her as a connection to our animal kingdom (when she's jumping off the couch armrest or tasting unthinkable things in the backyard), she is my little creature. 

 

While sometimes I wish I could tame her, more often I'm grateful for the opportunity to evolve spiritually through being her parent. Being in touch with the wildness in my daughter has taught me so much and I think if more parents could realize how much we can learn from our children, we could all be better humans.