I don’t remember when people stopped asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Can you remember how you answered it? For most of my childhood my answer was vet. I was oblivious to what the job actually entailed and was pretty sure that you got to cuddle puppies and kittens all day. I think that this is the innocence that we look back at and sometimes wish to have again. When ‘taxes’ meant sharing a bite of chocolate bar with your parents … that was the life. However, childhood came with the inevitability of growing up. I can remember nights of physical growing pains. I would wake up screaming – my legs in agony. My dad would come in and rub them and make me walk and eventually the pain would ease (much to everyone’s relief since I had no pain tolerance). The physical pain is long since gone but we continue to grow up and will do so until we die. It changes names from growing up to growing old but I think that it means the same thing. And still some nights I wake up hurting but it is not my legs. Hurting because life is hard and there is no way around that fact. Sometimes we grow through phases where our hearts hurt, where our minds hurt. The previous quick fix of walking around the bed doesn’t work but it turns into pacing the floor and turning in bed as ideas spin in our minds. Life continues on as we struggle to grow up.
It is kind of weird that we are no longer asked what we want to become. I know many people who are adults and have not found the answer. It drives some of us crazy and others enjoy the open possibilities that are in front of them. However, I think that the question of “what you want to be” misses the point. The question that is far more important is “who do you want to be as you grow up”. What is the character that you wish to have? This spans far beyond retirement age. I look at people around me and I see elements of the person I want to become. I look at others and can sometimes see where I came from and how my thinking has changed. I used to wish all of me away. If only I could be 100% like Person A, then I would be happy, a good person, not a failure … Some days I still feel like that but I have realized that that is not a healthy way to think. I come with a host of faults and foibles I do not deny that but maybe, just maybe, there is something to me too (it has taken me years to be able to say that and it still kind of freaks me out to admit it but this blog is a safe place). So when I look around I see characteristics that I want to cultivate in myself. I see people who are kind, generous, good listeners, activists, and compassionate hearts. I marvel at how some people live their lives and I want some of what they have. Instead of wishing myself away this Lent I am going to try and become more of the person that I want to be. Hopefully I’ll get closer to the very best Amy that I can achieve. Trying to embrace the fact that I am me.
So, this Lent, I pose to you the question. Who do you want to be as you grow up?