Yesterday I went to see a skin specialist because of some poison oak which is affecting my eyes. I am not a pretty picture. When I got there, they checked my vital signs (weight, blood pressure, pulse, temperature) and also my height. I haven’t been measured vertically for many years, and I’ve always believed my height to be 6’3 1/8”. I was a little nervous because if I were to be shorter than 6’3”, that would underscore my aging, which I am sometimes loathsome to do. I was rather shocked to find that I am 6’3 ½” tall now, a full 3/8” taller than I’ve ever been measured in my life. I’ve been working a lot on good posture and stretches, (and swimming too which has a lengthening energy to the motion) but this height increase certainly caught me off guard.I believe that to a certain extent that we carry the height we are comfortable with. For many years, I’ve struggled with allowing my height and broadness of shoulder to fully express itself. To walk with chest up and forward and arms not rotated inward in collapse has an emotional vulnerability to it. In that open posture, we can feel susceptible, vulnerable to being impacted and affected. When we round forward and curl inward (which I have had a tendency to do) it is as if a protective cage is guarding our heart (and also our diaphragm – where in my experience, a lot of shame and self contempt lurks). As I grow and deepen on a personal level, and air out some of those dark and smoldering inner places, I find it becomes easier to stand straighter – an openness of posture more reflective of an openness of heart.
This ties in nicely with this theme that has been arising in my life lately – the concept of growing up. It sounds strange, of course, to talk about this at age 48, but there are certain ways that I’ve never quite come to maturation and it’s been feeling like it’s time to let go of more old patterns and ways of being, and to move into a posture that feels more true, more reflective of my age, more reflective of my maturation, more reflective of my soul.
When I think about growing up, I actually prefer the word “maturation.” Maturation need not be staid or controlled, but simply means becoming as fully yourself in your full capacity as possible. In terms of growing up, it involves recognizing and leaving behind ways of thinking and behaving that we have known, ways which may actually have served us very well, and moving towards a newer depth of truth that is more purely reflective of the person we are becoming. In a way, what I am doing with my life, and what I hope to facilitate in part through these writings, is to become the truest most pure Ted I can be. Along the way, I try leaving behind the false aspects of my personality (fear, pettiness, petulance, greed, angst, control, etc.) and bring in more openness, care, heart, and stillness.
There is a line in a famous poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer which touches one of those “growing up” areas for me:
“I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”
The fear of disappointing another and the resultant feared outcome of losing love is fairly strong in me, and interweaves with this issue that has been arising for me lately of being able to know what is true for me. There are times when my truth, my knowing, can arise simply and easily, but other times, especially when my truth can have a disappointing effect on another, it can all but elude my grasp.As I went to sleep the other night, this question of growing up was coursing through my mind so I requested of my dreams to lend me some insight into this issue. At some point in the night, I awoke in a bit of a panic because I couldn’t find my stuffed animal anywhere in the bed. I rabidly searched the covers until I finally realized that I had been dreaming and that I don’t actually sleep with a stuffed animal. Definitely some regressing going on here.
I think the bottom line for growing up, at least as it appears to me at this stage of my life, is one of living true to oneself. This is not an utterly selfish perspective for it does not imply disregarding others. Being true to oneself also includes attending to our hearts, which naturally connects with our compassion for others, and our natural sense of care and concern. It also takes into consideration the consequences of our actions and takes responsibility for them.
It’s a long journey to growing up, to becoming the person we truly are. Much needs to fall off along the way so that what remains is more authentically us. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it to 6’4” someday.