The End of Life as We Know It

Dear Will:

Life as we know it is about to come to an end. By which I mean that our daughter is about to leave home. Which doesn’t begin to tell the full story.

I’ll try to make it brief: As I think you know, Bryn is a ballerina—a pretty good one if you believe the pundits who know about these things. She has danced many leading roles for her local ballet company. Last year she was a finalist in the annual Spotlight competition at the Music Center in downtown LA, and in January of this year she won gold at the YoungArts competition sponsored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Pretty cool.

But things have gotten complicated as Bryn approaches graduation from high school in June. First she was offered a position in the second company of the Houston Ballet (a typical entry-level gig for an aspiring dancer). It was exactly what she was hoping for. But something didn’t feel right, so she turned them down.

A couple of weeks later, Bryn was admitted to Juilliard as one of only 12 female dancers who get admitted each year. After she declined that invitation due to financial concerns (it costs over $50,000 per year), they sweetened the deal and offered her almost a full tuition scholarship. Such an honor! And so enticing! But she turned down Juilliard too.

Then about a week later the unimaginable happened. Bryn was offered an apprenticeship with American Ballet Theatre in New York. Now if you don’t follow the ballet world that won’t mean a lot to you, but it’s bigger than a big deal. To put it into terms that I can understand, it’s sort of like being invited to join the New York Yankees without having to play in the minor leagues first. It’s more than she could possibly hope for coming straight out of high school, the early fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

What this means is that Bryn will have to put her hopes of going to college on hold. And it means that in less than a month, my 17-year-old only-daughter will be moving to New York to start her career. The good news is that Bryn is an exceptional young woman, with her feet firmly planted on the ground (for now, anyway) and with an abiding faith in God. I worry, of course, as any father would, about her safety and happiness. But I do not worry about her priorities. What’s that old proverb? “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Assuming that’s true, Bryn will be fine.

That’s not the only change we’re going to see around here. A couple of months ago I mentioned that my son Luke—the recent college graduate—was discouraged in his efforts to find his first real job. Well to his great relief, he has been offered a position with a small advertising agency in Costa Mesa. He starts next week. He’ll be moving into his own apartment at the end of this month. Thanks to a temp job he landed around the time that I wrote to you, the full extent of Luke’s “unemployment” was about a week. Not bad.

Meanwhile, the nervous dad is about to have a coronary. As I get ready to send two of my three children off into the world to find their way without me, I keep coming back to another passage in Proverbs that provides wise counsel to all of us—the departing children and the worried father alike: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5 – 6).

PW

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