Our son Sam turned ten last week. That means that I am a ten-year-old daddy!
See how that works?
The pressure’s kind of off that way.
I remember a moment in when it dawned on me that against all prior belief, there is no line to cross when you become a Grown Up. There is no ceremonial bridge across a demarcation and then you’re done with young things, and only operate in the reality of Adult Things. (Although I get what I Corinthians is saying, too…)
Most astute people realize this long before I did. For some of you, it’s a major spoiler. I imagine most of us are in the learning curve. What interests me most today is what expectations we bring to ourselves as an adult man or woman, often unconsciously.
When I believed in my heart that adults were categorically different than younger humans, here are some things I thought about Grown-Ups:
- You know everything.
- You are always sensible.
- You are completely responsible for the world.
- You are confident and clear about relationships, vocation and money.
If I thought these things were true today, my life would be a failure. Isn’t it funny what we believe?
We all have a running narrative in our heads that serves to integrate our experiences, giving meaning to life. When we are vulnerable and under stress, that narrative, in an effort to make sense out of what’s happening, may fragment things to sift through them. In times like these, the narrator may be critical. I speak from experience here as I happen to be in a season of life where there some sifting going on. (YouTube vids of Neil Patrick Harris at the Tonys help.)
Last week among the joyous celebration of Sam’s life, I also remembered the time I was first aware of this narrative. I remember confronting all kinds of beliefs I had about God, the universe and everything. To this day I name myself a recovering perfectionist. ”Recovering,” because there are buttons that get pushed once in a while. Though I like to think of myself as an enlightened Christ-minded Buddha, I am still surprised how sometimes I expect myself to be strong, smart, handsome, cool, funny, whatever.
I trust I’m not alone here.
As for me, I’m wanting to continually make friends with that narrator. Spiritual practices of meditation, music, journaling, sitting, walking and conversation with trusted friends do it for me.
Thomas Moore writes that in the first half of life, you spent your time paying attention, trying to be conscious, developing aspects of your character. In the second part of life you are letting go, practicing being unconscious and allowing seasons to pass with acceptance.
Feels like that second half of life is unfolding. More and more I am loving what is, with my spiritual life centered around clarity, not certainty.
Happy birthday to me, a ten year old daddy.
I’ll be entering adolescence soon. Look out.