“To Feel a Smile in My Deepest Soul” — Delaney at 16

Delaney, 16, jumping into Dad’s pickup, headed to high school, early 2007

Exactly half my lifetime ago, when I was sixteen going on seventeen, the year was 2007, and I wrote a passionate, one-page declaration of all I wanted to experience in this lifetime. The expression was tinted with the oh-so typical and yet equally delicious aspirations of a teenager in the free world!

That piece of paper was burned years later in an intentional fire ritual as I lightened my load and prepared to move out to California, but I knew it was special enough to capture as a digital image, and now I share…

[See typed transcript below for easier reading.]

Delaney's desires 2007

“The light changes when you’re in the room.”


I want to travel. I want to drive the roads of this country and meet a ton of people. I want to accomplish something meaningful. I want to swim in the ocean, breathe the coasts, absorb the sunshine, plant trees for the future, extinguish dirty roots. I want substantial conversations and plans. I want knowledge and power. I do not want to fear what has been feared. I want to scream at the top of a mountain and say I’ve lived. I want to eat the healthiest fruits of the earth. I want to reach out and inspire others, influence others. I never want the music to end, and I always want the right song. I want happiness to be a common welfare. I want jealousy to disappear and tolerance to generate. More than anything, I want to savor and enjoy my youth to its full extent. I want to run. I want my heart to race. I want to scream, and throw my hands in the air. I want my naivete to believe that everyone has good. I want lies to vanish, and hurt to bury itself to be only a memory. I want to smell sweet perfume and attend extravagant parties. I want to kiss someone beautiful. I want to fight for a cause and dance around a bonfire in the sand, hearing only waves and laughter. I want to observe everything in my viewpoint and look past nothing. I want to mute useless words and understand the silence in someone’s eyes. I want to acknowledge the past, accept the future, and bask in the present. I want to feel a smile in my deepest soul. I want to play hide and seek with partners under a summer evening sky. I want to lose my hypocrisy but maintain my contradictions. I want to swing into the sky. I want to believe in some great force. I want time to slow down. I want the wind to blow and the rain to exclaim rejuvenation. “More than anything, I want to see you, girl, take a glorious bite out of this whole world.”

Side note: the two quoted bits are from songs I was listening to at the time. Check out Spotify links below if you’re interested in listening to the songs.

Delaney, 16, early 2007

Today I find it pertinent to post and express this writing—half a lifetime after writing it—because I have spent the summer venturing and peering into the dense groves of my inner child’s heart and mind. Perhaps I have been seeking the answer to the question:

What did that girl want the most?

So, yesterday, when I came across this one-page declaration of my youthful desires, filed away somewhere in my computer’s archives, I was filled for a moment with the teenage glee and enthusiasm for life I once had in spades.

I had so much hope and optimism for a bright future. My appetite for life was bursting at the seams and carried all the idealism so plentiful in young people. I wanted the world to be wide, good, and wonderful, with arms outstretched to greet me. I wanted to dive into the promising realms of experience. I wanted it all, and I didn’t hesitate to name it.

The writing transported me to a place, years and years deep, where I have desperately needed to revisit. This girl who expressed pages and pages of candid journal entries was someone with an enormous fire for life, a girl who wanted to taste all the richness and sweetness that life could deliver.

And now, it’s funny, rewarding, and comforting to see how many of my desires have been deeply fulfilled since that chapter of teenage yearning. I did travel, far and wide. I drove the roads of this country and met lots of souls along the way. I tasted nature, shared kisses, danced under the night sky, learned and grew and acquired knowledge and experience, ran and ran and ran—out of both exhilaration and fear—, believed in some great force, tumbled and fell, felt real pains, got back up again, ventured out again, and lived many things in between.

Having manifested so many of my earlier desires, perhaps now the question becomes:

What does this woman want the most?

Can I keep running into life’s arms, with the same gusto, optimism, and courage I once had? Can I believe in the promise of more gorgeous life chapters ahead? Can I heal the deep wounds I’ve incurred through experience? Can I integrate the mistakes I’ve made? Can I expand even further? Can I fantasize unabashedly about who I might become? Can I sing at the top of my lungs to my favorite song in the car, windows down, with the vast Pacific coastline rolling by, the tide forever ushering in new jewels and deep treasures of the ancient universe?

Can I be eyes open, heart awake, body present for all of it?

Can I share in it all with others, too?

Can I join the ranks of true love?

Can I feel the smile in my deepest soul?

Can I?

For a fuller experience of what I was jamming to in my teens, please check out my playlist on Spotify. These songs were oh-so-epic to me at the time! Some are happy, some are hopeful, and some are, of course, angsty!

As I close out this post, I wish to say… May the spirit that lit your fires in youth likewise light your fires today and each new day. May you always invite your tender, sweet, hopeful inner child into the liveliest chambers of your heart.


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