“Everybody, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is. They yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them. But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their personal legend. The mysterious force is a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your personal legend. It prepares your spirit and your will - It's your mission on earth. To realize it is a person's only real obligation. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho My younger son is leaving on a trip to Amsterdam. A trip he dreamt, planned, and financed himself for a whole year. Part of me wants to protest the distance that is separating him from me. Part of me wants to wish an excellent wind in his sails to go and see and learn. I am reminded of the first day I taught him how to cross the street in Tehran. “Look to your left, look to your right, look to your left again, and go…run.” I waited for him to cross the street, as his little hand slipped out of mine, and off he went. My heart was beating so hard. It would have been so much easier to hold on to his hand and to walk him across the street. So much safer it was. But, he needed to learn to cross the street for himself to be able to get to the other side of the street, where his world was going to begin. Part of the pain of parenthood is to help your children go, go cross that street, go cross that ocean, go look for their “personal legend.” As he bounces around with joy and excitement, getting ready to leave, I brave the pain and hold still with a reassuring smile on my face. He goes to find the world and his personal legend, and I feel lost, staying on my side of the street.