I am thinking about life’s stages a lot these days.
Maybe because I am in my 60s and a grandma, life is measured by months and developmental milestones, the seasons, and what can be accomplished in a day. There are retirements of friends and family. Joint replacements and surgical repairs. Endings, and the start of something else. My son’s wedding plans, house purchase, a new puppy. The future runs full steam ahead. And I find myself not in the center of things, as I once was when called upon many times a day “Mom! Where’s my? Will you…?” I feel a little left out, but at the same time glad of it. Life is not all about me.
Why wouldn’t I want to use this time, freed up from some of the responsibilities of my younger self to develop a part of me. To become something new? I will always feel a pull to home, to tend things, make meals, garden. The things that are a part of me, that are both necessary and satisfying. But away from the home fires there is a push, an urgency to act in a short season. It feels like the energy contained in a bud that bursts open in the space of a few days and also the slow growth of a tree. How it is capable of growing in more than one direction. The trunk that expands with each growing season. How a new layer develops from smaller, denser cells that push outward, adding a new ring to expand its circumference. New branches grow in to the canopy, extending up and out, at the same time the roots underneath, go deeper and wider.
My growth feels like it comes from my center, the core our fitness instructors want us to strengthen.
But it also feels like this is where the living energy pushes out from my center, the force that makes living things taut and firm. The kind my ceramics professor in college wanted us to recreate by studying organic shapes like pumpkins and gourds. Their internal energy producing a tension, giving shape to the “thing,” so it won’t collapse in on itself, like something overripe or shriveled. Ways we can look at growing old.
I want to grow like a tree-stretch my branches to reach higher, and my roots probing deeper with understanding.
This urgency I feel is both limited and full of possibilities. And I understand some choices just aren’t worth it anymore like cleaning a big house, playing extreme sports, working 40 hours a week, wearing a bikini.
I don’t mean I won’t take a risk. Would I do a black diamond run? No. But then I was never much of an Alpine skier. Would I climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Maybe. So it seems I will balance my fear of falling with the thrill of reaching the top. Some of us have a bucket list, a wish list of destinations for travel, a list of things to accomplish. I don’t like the thought of working down a list for the pleasure of crossing things off, I do enough of that daily on my list of chores. The stuff on my list doesn’t neatly end. And might seem mundane by this measure. My growth doesn’t feel limited or confined by a space that is too small, or by a finite list. It is much like a plant that is root bound, at its happiest and most productive under the stress of confinement. And under this restrictive environment will produce its most beautiful blossoms.