This is a picture of my daughter and her friend looking out to sea. They don’t know I’m taking this photo. We’ve been walking the beach and the two have scrambled onto a rock to watch the sunset. They’re talking quietly as they look outwards to this world that they are to inherit. I can’t hear their conversation. I don’t need to. They’re in conversation with the planet. They are part of this landscape.
They are reflective, and in this in moment they occupy this calm stillness. They’re naturally in harmony with their environment. I see the power of their wonder. I see the power of them. The power of their quiet confidence. The power these as two loved girls looking into the abyss of the unknown.
Do they have all they need to navigate what lies ahead? Have we burdened them with our unfinished catastrophe? Are they resilient? Can they be dangerous? Are these our young warrior women?
Will they love themselves? Will the messages that have poisoned so many women’s self-worth and agency hurt them too? Will they be in a silent war with their bodies? Will they think they are not good enough? Will they be scared to walk in the darkness to their car? Will they know true equality? Will they be safe? Will they be happy? Will they know love?
Right now they aren’t quite women. They aren’t quite children. Their outlook has started to broaden beyond their parents. They are starting to look at the world on their own terms. As a parent this is the bit that is both terrifying and wonderful. It’s the part where you recede. The part where you are not in the picture anymore.
When I came home I looked at this photo and I saw this moment. It made me cry. I felt like I’d captured something intangible. Something that is both magnificent and insignificant. Something that you can miss in real time. She’s my fifth child. I know what I am looking at, because I know how quickly it goes. I know that in a blink she’ll be packing her room and kissing me goodbye. All that work. All that life. And then the child is gone.
In this photo I can see their lovely childhood. I can see their possibilities. I can see them getting prepared. Surveying the horizon. Getting ready.
It’s late afternoon, the sky and the ocean coalesce in this fleeting softness. It’s the place where hope lives. The fragile moment between day and night, echoed by this equally fragile moment between childhood and adolescence. It’s the remarkable power of the eternally impermanent nature of beauty. It is elusive, it’s reflective.
It’s the tide of our own humanity.
I look at these clever, strong girls. I hope we have given them what they need. I feel grief for what we have taken. This place is theirs.
They will be the caretakers of our planet.