She dutifully arises from her sleep at half past five each morning to care for her beloved dogs, one of whom is a young puppy. She takes them outside and watches them as they romp around the backyard. Then she prepares their morning meals and smiles with contentment as the sun rise and the coyotes utter their mournful cries in the distance. The air is cool and just as invigorating as the coffee that she sips to awaken her brain just a bit more.
After the early morning routine she eats a light breakfast and dresses for a visit with the little goat that she has decided to raise. She lovingly brings the dogs back inside and gets them settled for her departure. She sits quietly and pensively during the short ride to the barn where her kid is housed. It is a beautiful time of day when the morning promises so many possibilities with its cool breezes wafting over the rugged terrain in the Texas hill country. Deer dart in front of the car or graze leisurely along the side of the road. Now and again a group of walkers smile at her as they go past.
Nobody else is yet at the barn when she arrives. It is summer time and most of the young people with animals have chosen to sleep in a bit taking advantage of the final few days before the school year begins. They will come to carry out their duties later, but she likes working in the coolness of the morning and listening to the members of the marching band practicing just across the way. She wonders how her good friends are doing with the rigorous sessions that begin at seven in the morning and continue until four in the afternoon. She thinks of them as she feeds her goat, refreshes his water, cleans his stall and walks him around the high school campus. Along the way she sees the cross country team practicing and greets locals from the neighborhood who are enjoying their daily walks.
Later in the afternoon she will repeat her duties with both the dogs and the goat. In between she enjoys the book assigned by her English teacher for summer reading and practices some Spanish in anticipation of the language class that she will be studying in the coming school year. Several days a week she works at a veterinary clinic observing and assisting in every possible way. Her goal is to one day be a veterinarian, and so she is focused on learning as much about animals as possible, which is why she chose to dedicate her time to a goat rather than playing the clarinet in the band. She enjoys being a musician by being a member of a youth orchestra instead. She is unquestionably focused on her goals with a maturity that belies her age of fourteen, almost fifteen, years. She even chose to stay behind while her family went on a vacation trip so that she might dedicate herself to her animals, at least for now.
On Sundays she takes riding lessons, mostly so that she will have the opportunity to learn about horses. She looks rather tiny as she sits tall and erect on her steed. It takes far more strength and athleticism than she had imagined to manage the animal, and she is often quite tired after guiding the horse around barrels and getting him to jump over gates. She takes instruction from her teacher quite seriously, repeating drills over and over again.
She will be a freshman in high school when the new academic year begins near the end of August. She has chosen a STEM pathway which will feature extensive studies of science and mathematics, but she is also set to take advanced English and Social Studies classes as well. She already understands how competitive it is to gain admission to the universities that she hopes to one day attend. She feels certain that she has chosen a goal that is doable and will also bring her much joy, but she understands how much time and work she will have to invest to get there. She is unafraid.
She is also a quite typical teenager. She sends and receives text messages from her friends all day long. She loves to shop and get the latest styles for her school wardrobe. She talks on the phone for hours once her duties have been completed. She exercises to keep fit and watches makeup tutorials to learn how to use beauty supplies correctly. She loves going to the mall with her best friend and trying on prom dresses and dreaming of one day buying and wearing one to a special event. She is fully aware of world events and has definite opinions about politics. She wants to one day have a positive effect on the environment and the people around her. She is wise and serious, innocent and quick to laugh.
She is our future as are her friends and so many young men and women who will one day be running our businesses, schools and governments. Her earnestness and unflagging dedication leave me feeling quite confident that we have no worries. With the thousands and thousands like her the world will move forward just as it should, just as it always has. When I see her I know that we often worry needlessly. The human spirit always finds a way to shine in people like this remarkable girl, and all of us will benefit from the endless wave of very good individuals like her who step forward to join the ranks of honest, productive adults. When I see her I know for certain that life is good.