Today is my son’s sixteenth birthday. (Happiest birthday, amazing Orion!) As most of you likely know, O inspired the character of Hunter in the Crank trilogy. He is, biologically speaking, our grandson, who we adopted when my daughter’s life (and so, ours, too) spun totally out of control. But we’ve had him since he was a baby, and consider him solidly our son. He was the candle, the one flicker of hope, in that dark, dark time of my life. And though he is growing into a man, he will always remain a source of light for me.
In the wake of the last few days, I worry about his future, and the future of all our children. Theirs is a world torn apart by war and senseless violence. Of fiscal uncertainty. Of a growing dependence on technology, at the expense, perhaps, of self-reliance and personal interconnection. Here in America, they witness the power of money and the celebration of possessions. Athleticism is prized, genius bullied. The generations before them have allowed greed to destroy reason. Natural resources have been pillaged. The planet is warming. This is a time of doubt.
And yet, every child is a candle of hope. Inside each is limitless potential, waiting to be tapped into. The solution to every problem is locked inside at least one of them. Someone just has to give them the key. That may be a parent. A teacher. A clergyman. A librarian. A mentor. A stranger. People are not meant to walk through life alone. But too many children are forced to, or at least believe that is true. Too many feel isolated or singled out for derision. Too many are hurt, often by those who should love them the most. Sometimes abused. Sometimes cut to the bone by words.
I worry about the future, yes. But I am determined to be an instrument of change. Despite the difficult times in my life, I have been blessed. My family continues to grow, to heal, to love. I am surrounded by a brilliant circle of friends and peers. I have tapped into my own personal potential, built it into a fantastic career, with an ever-expanding cadre of readers. Not only do my books entertain them, but they have helped more than a few through their own dark times, given hope and understanding that no one is truly alone.
Now, with Ventana Sierra, I will be helping young people in a most tangible way, fanning candles of hope into flames. When I finally leave this earth (no worries, I plan on sticking around for a very long time!), I will continue to make a difference and, with luck and a lot of help, positively influence the future. Worrying about it is fine. Giving up on it is unthinkable.
Today, family and friends are coming over to celebrate the holidays and my son’s sixteenth birthday. What a party it will be, filled with joy, and cheer, and love. I’m sending a little of all three out to every one of you today. And every day.