You see, I have an amazing step-daughter. A beautiful, clever, loving, funny, kind, and super-talented step-daughter who could change the world, make countless lives better and, I'm sure, totally transform the lives of those lucky enough to get close to her.
But, I despair. I despair because she is happy to coast along, like the proverbial pebble in the stream, tumbling onward but not controlling anything. She's waiting for things to happen to her, for things to be arranged for her or for others to make decisions for her. Instead of taking life by the scruff of the neck, she's giving it the gentlest of placatory pats on the head. There, there life, don't be worried by me.
Yes, yes, I know she's a teenager and I should be grateful that she actually speaks and doesn't just grunt, that she loves to help me in the kitchen rather than staying in her room listening to girl band music and only emerging to row with us and exit again to the sound of slamming doors. And I am grateful - grateful, glad and happy that the daughter-I-didn't-think-I'd-have actually seems to be negotiating her teens without losing it.
However, time is tick-tick-ticking along and she's slip-sliding through a life that could be extraordinary. I hear her making excuses for not doing things, not trying things and not making the most of things and it breaks my heart. So I slump deskwards again, wondering when she'll wake up.
About now, I imagine that you're thinking you've stumbled onto one of those vaguely tedious whining posts where the writer bares their soul in the hope of being flung some scraps of comfort. That's not what this is.
You see, as much as I despair about the beautiful girl in my life, I know she's only a teenager, and a teenager who has had some pretty shitty things happen to her in her life so I can make allowances for her and hope that by example and by encouragement, she can take baby steps towards being the whole person and my despair will turn to pride. And, she's fifteen, she's got time to get it right.
How about you? How much time have you got? Do the opportunities and moments where you could jump forwards, away from the crowd, pass? Is playing it safe from the sidelines better than getting stuck in? What are those things that you really really want? You know, those things that you can barely even own up to because they're so longed for and so personal and there's the feeling that if you acknowledge them and they don't work out, that you'll be pretty crushed. And that deep desire can be almost crippling - the worry of trying, the worry of the work, the effort, the worry of what you might do if actually those dreams work out and the worry, just the worry all the time.
And yet, in that petrified, frozen state, you're not really living. You're not out there, doing, changing, experiencing, experimenting, trying and achieving. You're sleepwalking and allowing the days to pass.
So, this is the post where you get that kick in the pants I'm afraid. As the nasty doctor said when he gave you the yukky medicine to swallow "it's for your own good I'm afraid". Do something, anything, because nothing will change if you don't. It's scary and terrifying yes, but a life that's lifeless should be the nightmare. So, get on with it - whatever the 'it' might be for you. Don't just talk about it, be about it.
As for Emily, she'll be fine, she'll be more than fine. She'll live a life in the light because she's too bright for the shadows.
And she's not the only one is she?