Not Until Recently.
For 30 plus years I was like Peter Pan, shouting “I won’t grow up!”
Adolescence held a kind of magic that I refused to give up.
Being a grown up, or a “grup” as in a Star Trek episode where the children literally became sick, crazy and died
once they hit puberty, was not for me.
My Mom was a grown up. Serious, responsible, stressed and not playful.
When I became a Mom at 31, instead of growing up, I reinvented my own childhood alongside my daughter
and we flew side by side covered in fairy dust.
At 40, I found a way to let go of Peter’s growing up fears. And I kept the magic.
At 50, I allowed myself to become a grown up. I did not become sick, crazy or die.
At 60, I watched with pride, awe and joy when I reached for the mantle of Elder/Crone/Wise Woman and put it on.
I finally fit.
The real bonus is that once I “grew up” I didn’t stop growing. No, I didn’t suddenly become taller. Actually I shrunk 1.5 inches, thereby taking me below 5 feet tall. I am now officially a Munchkin. Or a Hobbit–minus the hairy feet.
The growing I mean is in awareness, attitude, experience, and acceptance.
Remember my rose-colored glasses? They did help me during tough times to remain positive. They also filtered out some of the harsh realities I wasn’t ready to see–until now. I find myself watching people and events more closely than ever before. Noticing subtleties and nuances that allow me to perceive outside my previously constructed box of life expectations. By detaching myself from myself, my awareness expands because it is not limited to what I already know and understand. Author Terry Pratchett, in his novel Wee Free Men, calls it First Sight.
“As a witch, Tiffany possesses First Sight, the ability to see “what is really there” (as opposed to Second Sight, which shows people what they think ought to be there.) She also possesses Second Thoughts, which are defined as “the thoughts you think about the way you think”…Tiffany also recognizes some of her thoughts as Third Thoughts, (the thoughts you think about the way you think about the way you think).”
The Attitude of Gratitude guides my life. As a young woman it was difficult to see the silver lining in a miserable job or a vomiting baby or a husband who didn’t agree with me. On everything. As I started nurturing Gratitude I saw the lessons I could learn and the changes and choices I could make to get me back on my path. I spend less time griping and wallowing because I know something good is going to come out of the misery.
As Leonard Cohen sings, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Age and aging does allow one the time to experience, and therefore learn. Through time I have discovered and added to my collection of life’s puzzle pieces and seen how they fit together to form complex pictures than I had previously thought impossible. A quote on the wall of my local Denny’s restaurant reads:
“Take orders from all kinds of people and you gain experience.
Listen to all kinds of people and you gain wisdom.”
There are so many parts of Acceptance. Accepting, graciously, compliments as well as criticism. Accepting the way someone is, without wanting to change them. Accepting yourself, as you are right this moment instead of the imaginary, future, picture-perfect you. Accepting life’s circumstances and, unless they are life threatening, going with the flow. A flow which you can influence and steer.
Jon Kabat-Zinn writes: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is–especially when you don’t like it–and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can…to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.”
I do like being a grown up.
At the same time, I and my Wise Woman Friend,
the Autumnal Queen (pictured above), agree with Federico Fellini:
“No matter what happens,
always keep your childlike innocence.
It is the most important thing.”