Coming of Age – Again

There are different times to come of age in life. There’s the coming of age from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood, and one I’d like to think of as the coming of age from adulthood to enlightenment.

I’m going to say this coming of age happens in midlife, but I suppose it could happen any time. Spiritual teacher and writer Richard Rohr calls it the “second half” of life, but that doesn’t mean that we have an equal number of years on either side of it, nor does it mean we ever really get all the way to enlightenment.

But there is most definitely a shift, and I began to notice it happening in my own life as I approached a “certain” age, though I still have a long way still to go on this journey.

Dropping the Nonsense

At a certain point in life, it’s time to shed the nonsense — the insecurity that causes us to spend so much time caring what others think or what society is telling us we should want or feel or do.

It becomes time to stop blaming this or that experience or person for creating obstacles or stress or whatever it is that we’d like to believe is outside of us making us miserable, or for that matter happy.

I’ve listen to people whine about the traumas and challenges of the past and things that “should not be” the way they are. It seems for some people, no matter how much time they spend on their “issues,” the issues remain.

To experience relief from this kind of suffering, we do need to admit our humanity. We need to stop pretending things don’t hurt or even traumatize us. We need to do the “work” of feeling our feelings, our pain, and our losses. But we also need to get over it!

Will, Luck, or Grace? Getting Past the Past

I’m not sure there is any special way of getting over things we need to let go of. Is it an act of the will? Good luck? God’s grace? In my case, I’m beginning to suspect that it’s just age. I was tired of my own whining a long time ago.

I continued to empathize with most of the whiners in my life. I’ve been there, and I know I needed someone to witness what I was going through without judgment.

But I’m beginning to suspect I don’t have to be everyone’s witness all the time, at least not anymore. The point of facing the pain or trauma of the past is to get past it, and if you’re not going to do that, you’re going to stay behind with it forever. If you stay with it long enough, you might find you’re the only one left in your little cocoon of self pity and misery.

I think people who stay stuck in the past secretly think — or wish — that it’s possible to complain their way out of doing what needs to be done to reach their goals. The line of thinking might go something like this: Well this guy got what I want but he didn’t have all of these issues and obstacles that I have. It’s been so hard for me, and I know he didn’t have the same challenges so I should just get what I want anyway because I really want it and if all this bad stuff didn’t happen to me, I’d have it. So I should have it even though I see myself as a poor pathetic loser with bad luck who should never have been born. And if I just got what I wanted I wouldn’t see myself that way anymore.

If You Want to Feel Better, Change Your Mind

Change happens when the thinking changes. Sometimes, it means realizing that getting what you want isn’t so important. Sometimes it means changing your belief about the obstacles in your way. You might even start to want the things that you get. And perhaps you’ll even begin to realize how much you already have!

And then something even more amazing could happen. People could really begin to like you more and more because they’d be drawn to your positive attitude. You might start to like you more as well.

The point is that if you live long enough, you will likely change your ideas about what life should be like so you can appreciate what it is like. You just have to do it!

And if you’re afraid that you won’t be able to handle all the newfound joy and inner peace that might happen if you just decide to look for it, don’t worry. There will be plenty of opportunities for despair and disappointment should you find joy isn’t really your thing after all.

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Maria Kuzmiak, M.A. is a health and well-being writer with a background in nutrition, psychology and education and a passion for yoga. She has written hundreds of articles, blogs and newsletters for clients in health-related fields, particularly those specializing in yoga, natural medicine, nutrition, and spiritual health and healing. Maria has also worked as a nutritionist, teacher and technical editor. Learn more about her writing at www.wellbeingwriter.net.

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