@four, Adam said, “You can't send all those paintings to a gallery. I will miss them too much.”

Such is the rare gift of love.

Human beings have been given another rare gift, the gift of life. For if matter and anti-matter had canceled each other out, according to scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, then “we would be less than dead; we would never have existed.”

Sometimes students write about their anguish at not being able to satisfy apparently loving parents. In a profound way, the kids sound as if they had never existed: there is the person inside with dreams and desires; there is the child that bends to the will of the parents; and the struggle between these warring forces squeezes out any sense of life.

I know the feeling. My piano teacher rapped me on the knuckles when I didn't practice enough. Would a God who never got his period rap me on the knuckles, or worse, for never being what anybody wanted? (http://www.cla.purdue.edu/WAAW/Whitaker/identity2.html)

Sometimes you feel as though you are in a revolving door, spinning from expectation to expectation. Eventually those expectations are osmosed into your very fiber. You forget whose they are, where they stop and you begin. You lose sight of yourself in the person mirrored for you. I have heard kids with loving adoptive parents express these feelings. I have heard others whose biological families are intact, but hanging from the verbalizations of “I love you” are the nonverbalized “Why aren't you...?” Why aren't you smarter, thinner, taller, more popular? Why aren't you already making millions when 26-year-olds like the CEO of Facebook have made their fortunes? Why don't you swing like Tiger, hit like Bonds, run like Michael Jordan? Why don't you prove how important I am by being a famous off-spring? As Dr. Mark Hyman wrote recently in the Huffington Post, “the well-meaning are often ill-doing”.

Though they cannot admit it, these parents feel an emptiness within themselves that children are supposed to fill. When the child cannot, it becomes translated into “if you loved me you would.” If the child even touches the hem of those expectations, the goals are insidiously moved farther away. It is exquisitely painful for some people to be satisfied. They are juiced by criticism, disappointment, disapproval. They eat it with their breakfast, chew over it at lunch, and dissect it endlessly at dinner.

Some of these youngsters, and not-so-young-sters, find themselves in an existential limbo, caught between ought-to and dare-I. They marry the spouse that Mom and Dad approve of, and then wonder why their lives seem unfulfilling. They go to the college picked out for them, by their teachers, their parents, their parents' friends, work their butts off, and yearn for something else. Sometimes they become parents themselves, and repeat the pattern by teaching their children what to think rather than how to think. They are like neutral B-mesons, particles that can't make up their mind. One of them wrote recently, “Breaking a pattern is such a challenging task. It is like a disease or a genetic composition”.

Breaking the pattern takes extraordinary courage, the kind that leaders and heroes embody. You can be a hero without being lionized, without seeing your name in the headlines. You can be anything you want to, if you want to badly enough. Here's how the poet J.D.McClatchy expresses it:

"God spoke one and I heard two

That is, he heard himself as well.

Can what I say also be true?

Shaky grounds on which to dwell,

I'd say that angels still rebel

Against authority. And you?"

Artists break patterns all the time. I once described artists as similar to alzheimers' patients, going where others fear to, saying what others do not, crossing the borders of insanity clutching their visitor's pass. (http://www.cla.purdue.edu/WAAW/Whitaker/community.html) Now researchers at the Karolinsky Institute in Stockholm have decided that in fact creative people show similarities to schizophrenics. Why am I not surprised?

Thomas Mallon recently wrote, “When people say that nothing happens in their lives I believe them. But you must understand that everything happens to an artist; time is always redeemed; nothing is lost and wonders never cease”.

The lucky young ones among us will break patterns, re-discover wonders, reinvent themselves to their liking whether others like it or not. You will know them when you meet them, for they will say things like, “Please don't send all those paintings to a gallery. I would miss them too much.”

c. Corinne Whitaker 2010

For more on angels and rebels, see “Have You Roared Lately?" (http://www.giraffe.com/gr_roared.html)