Growing Into Oneself

3 comments | December 15th, 2011

(story submitted by Kate in Michigan, a Chestist)

I am wondering. 40 is the beginning of a new and improved part of my life. Or something.

Until I turned 10, I was cute, shy, sweet, devious, lying, clever, smart, chubby.

From 10 to 20, I was trying to be old. Trying to be awesome, sexy, popular, smart, and awesome (yes, I said it again). I succeeded in being moderately smart, popular with a very limited group of people, and fairly pretty but falling short of sexy, and not really awesome. I showed glimmers, but it didn't happen.

From 20-30, I tried to be superwoman. I tried to be powerful, sexy, smart, organized, efficient, loving, successful, talented, and amazing.
I succeeded in being smart, fairly sexy, pretty organized and efficient, mostly loving, and mildly successful. I was beginning to feel powerful. I worked my ass off. I tried hard to be everything to everybody. I managed to be a good daughter, wife, mom, teacher, player. What I didn't manage? Myself.

30-40 was pretty awesome and pretty friggin' awful. I was learning to be a mom, a wife, a professional. I went through some crazy changes (physical, emotional, relationships, family), and some of it was easier to fix than others. Most were huge challenges, and didn't get solved easily. The process of fixing all these things transformed me. I was scourged, ground down, shattered, rebuilt, like a great stainedglass window. I became another piece of art. Some of the pieces remained on the ground at the end. Some new pieces were added. A few rocks made it into the mix. Some sticks, some large bars of the strongest steel. My structure is more evident. THe ribs and supports are no longer hidden. Like the flying buttresses on Notre Dame in Paris. They become part of the beauty.

I like this. There's much more elbow room — room to grow. Freedom, perhaps.

I feel like a plant removed from its pot. My roots and leaves can go whichever way makes the most sense. I've spent 40 years (40 years!) confined. Trying to enjoy and to make the most out of my little pot. Trying to rationalize why it was so much FUN to be there. How pretty the view was, now nice the rain.

But really?

I can't really say I wish I would have looked further or tried to leap out earlier. What's the point of even worrying about that?

I think that 40 years in my pot strengthened me. Like lifting weights in a small room, it can make you strong AND help you appreciate the vast openness when you step out of the door into …. everything.

Don't know what I'm going to do. Don't. Maybe I'll grow old and laugh at the comics on Sundays, and pet my dogs and pick my toes and call it good.

Maybe? Mountains, ballrooms, crystal, silk, neon, elevators, stages, leafy glades, tap dancing, heavy volumes of poetry, deep sea diving, shamans, marble floors, meditation, color.

My dreams have been increasingly prophetic. My old and dear friends are featured in curious ways. Not many old enemies, unlike my typical dreams. These dreams are so positive in nature, with mere undercurrents of darkness. But oddly, the darkness is survivable. It's strengthening. I go into a frightening situation with a friend, and we both emerge alive and well, and better friends for having been through it together.

It's as though I am a center point in a sphere, rather than a dot on a line. I used to see my life as a line — start here, go here, then proceed onward to there.

I see it now as more of a mobius strip. With many entwined mobius strips, connected. My life's options seem so dimensional. My children learn from me — my habits, my stories, my outlooks– and they themselves extend from me. My teaching goes to my students, and I share my insights, the freedoms of music, the connections between people, and they will share some of that. WHen I play? It's like rather than connections in the form of strings or spikes, it's more of a haze. I connect with far more than the people in the group and the audience that listens, but I am tapping into (and adding my own) the great sea of ideas and life and sparks that hovers between and within all of us.

Also when I write. I feel this sand dune of thought beneath my words. Like I could write and write and never reach dirt. More crystals of thoughts, more tiny specks. I wish I could write fiction. I think I could be good at it, but I don't know how. I can't seem to find characters. Any stories I tell tend to be real people. I don't always tell the truth about them, though. It's when I don't try to lie — when I am pretty much telling something that happened, and I'm just embellishing it (often beyond recognition) — that the stories seem real. If I try to impose action or words deliberately — as a fiction– then, it's just fake. Puppets.

So for now, I'll stick with shall we say, fictionally-enhanced reality?

So once upon a time there was a little girl. She barely had any hair, and what there was was pale blonde and wispy. She sat on the floor of her grandmother's kitchen one Saturday morning, her little butt just barely fitting inside the old metal milk crate her grandpa had set out for her, as a boat. She had a wooden yardstick with a piece of thick yellow yarn (the kind grandma would tie on her pigtails a few years in the future, when she had enough hair) tied to the end. A little metal washer was tied to the end for a 'hook.' She was trying to catch fish….{end story}

Pretty beautiful, no?  Have you grown into yourself?  Do you think we do grow into ourselves?  What needs to happen for that to happen for you (if it hasn't already)? 



  • Kaley

    Posted on December 15, 2011

    I love this and can’t wait to feel it “I feel like a plant removed from its pot. My roots and leaves can go whichever way makes the most sense.”

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  • Waiting

    Posted on December 15, 2011

    I loved reading this, though like the comment above, it made me feel a little bit envious, and waiting and wanting to get where Kate is.

    I’m not yet 40, I’ve just turned 30, and so I know there’s a lot of life in front of me. I feel so unsettled though. Unsure of which way to go, and which road gets me where I think I want to be sooner. I am impatient for greater happiness.

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  • A.L.C.

    Posted on December 15, 2011

    I know Mark Twain said youth is wasted on the young, and as I read through this nodding in recognition, I couldn’t help but think he was right. Life’s richness unfolds with time. If only our bodies and minds didn’t shrivel with that same time it would all be glorious :)

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