Friday, January 27, 2017

Growing into our gifts

It’s true. I am that strange fellow who rants, raves, and writes stories about the many ways my October and November friends are growing and changing, continuing to “become,” even at their advanced age.
The fact is, at 60, 70, or even 80, we are always in the process of becoming someone different than we were yesterday. That’s a given. The more important question is this---is the person I am becoming a reasonable approximation of the person I was meant to be? Even in October and November, with all their attendant excuses for settling on something less, am I on track to be the best 'me' I can be, for my family, and my world?
I must admit, I find some of my own answers to that question hard to accept. After all, there are so many ways for us to 'become,' and so many habits and lifestyles that trap us in our old ways, making it hard to change. I was reminded of that a couple days ago when I read the following post.
It is from Brene Brown, Ph.D. (, an author and research professor at the University of Houston. Though she and many in her audience are probably dealing with the July-August time of life, her emphasis on “growing into our gifts” strikes me as another way to frame the notion of 'becoming.' And certainly her closing remark ---”it’s time to show up and be seen” applies just as much to we October and November folks as it does to those August kids.
Here is what she has to say.

I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hand upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
“I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing - these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt - has to go.
“Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
“Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

I can hear your October questions--- “How can I be ‘courageous and daring’ at my age? I am too set in my ways, too limited in what I can do---besides, I’m tired.”
Granted, our October becoming will probably not require a strong back and ripped abs. (A good thing too, since most days it is my back that is ‘ripped.’) But there are so many other ways to exploit our possibilities---to move beyond what we’ve been told we can do at our age and try, and in an age-appropriate way, keep ‘growing our gifts.’ 
We have learned so much along the way, more than we normally give ourselves credit for. And we are still on a ‘becoming’ path, whether we admit it or not. It is a matter of finding what works for us. This very afternoon I will be visiting with an October friend, helping him turn the novel he has always wanted to publish into a Print-on-Demand paperback. Even in retirement he is continuing to grow his gifts.
Finally, if Ms Brown’s insights resonate with you, I hope you will share this post and her website info with your July & August friends, including your own children. Help them understand why it is so important to continue down the path of Becoming.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know Gil, at your age, can I accuse you of "being wise beyond your years"? If so, I do.