Today is my birthday. I couldn’t care less. My mother apologized ten times over because she isn’t able to do anything for my birthday. I told her that I’m not turning ten and birthdays just don’t mean much anymore.
Whatever number is assigned to me on this birthday isn’t what makes me an adult. Over the last 12 months I experienced several losses and find myself thinking, “I certainly feel like an adult now.”
It isn’t loss itself that ferments us into adults. The narrowing of choices solidifies the individual. Some of this is caused by age or natural abilities. I cannot become an astronaut or a trapeze artist or an orchestra conductor. However, most of the possibilities in life are relinquished by personal choice.
I don’t want to live in Texas or in an isolated rural area. I’m not going to pursue a career in financial management or waste management. With each such recognition of what I don’t want to do or be or have, the actualization of the things I want to do or be or have is that much closer.
The narrowing of choices whether by nature or by personal decision delivers us to the possibilities that make us grown-up or adult. The challenge we face once we get there is to remain open to those possibilities.
Most of my life I didn’t want to make choices. I wanted to keep my options open. Now I check myself when I say no to something. Did I really think it through or am I reacting out of a closed, inflexible mind. Am I holding onto a personal quirk that isn’t really valuable? Am I impatient with someone else’s way of doing something because I think my way is the only way?
I try to be open-minded and flexible because these qualities invite joy into my life. Perhaps my willingness to change and entertain new ideas will prevent me from becoming a stoic, judgmental adult. Is that for me to choose?