On Becoming: Part 2 Don’t Stop Being You
Becoming requires change.
During spring, a shift occurs from the dead of winter to the fullness of green of summer. Brown is transformed into life. Naked trees clothes themselves with fashions that surpass anything Paris has to offer.
Like the trees, we do not become without transformation.
But wouldn’t it be strange if the tree tried to change into grass? Wouldn’t it be awful if the azalea tried to changed into a thorn bush?
This past week, my wife and I cleaned out our basement. The space serves as our own personal dump. We don’t aim to put trash there, only a small item every now and again. And only those items we plan on using later, but never do. Something to save for another day. Something to give to somebody else. Something somebody else gave us but still sits in a box.
The basement is the place where all of these things go to change into garbage.
Despite my low expectations, they were still high. Knowing I would be cleaning it, I finally noticed this space. And all of the items in it. And what happened during my neglect.
We had put the unwanted items in our lives down there, but my children saw a different purpose for everything. They had taken all of the cardboard boxes and cut them up and taped them together. Some duct-taped to the floor and the walls. Furniture that had been neatly stacked in a corner was now scattered about.
Boxes had been opened and the items of our past had been pulled out, and played with.
My children had made a mess.
It isn’t easy to notice the change that comes with spring. How many Aprils have passed barely noticed because you assumed it would be so?
To notice any of the changes, we have to stop. Stop our busyness and look. Stop the noise and listen. Stop moving and stand still.
Sometimes we need to get up close and examine the branches. Sometimes we have to listen to the sounds the forest makes as it wakes up in the spring.
Eyes Wide Open
Staring at their creation, I wished for my children to be different. I wished for them to realize the mess they created. I wished for them to understand what it was going to cost me. I wished for them to be more like a grown up.
I wished for them to be more like me.
I wanted to yell, not so much at them, but at the work. Because of the mess. In anticipation of the sweat and scratches and the work.
But I stopped. I closed my eyes. I took a few deep breaths. And when I opened my eyes, I saw something different.
I could see their creative imaginations. Instead of cardboard, I saw a small cottage in the south of France. The sounds of the Mediterranean floated through the open window.
I saw a dining room filled with our old table and chairs, set for tea. The doll with the glowing smile and the bear with some of his stuffing falling out waiting patiently for the hostess to arrive.
In the bedroom was a camping mat and a sleeping bag laid out for someone to take a lazy afternoon nap.
I could see the foolishness of my wishes.
As the seasons cycle from winter to spring. Then through autumn and back into winter, and we wait for spring once more, the tree doesn’t stop being. The grass doesn’t stop being. The bird doesn’t stop being.
There is change, and the change is constant. Perpetual. Reliable.
But the tree doesn’t try to change who it is. The maple is a maple. The oak is an oak. It only becomes a different version of itself. Adapting to its needs.
Don’t Stop Being You
In The Way of Chuwang Tzu, Thomas Merton said:
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.
To love our children, to love people, to love ourselves, we have to let things be.
I can’t explain the shame I felt when I had the passing desire for my children to be something other than who they are. As a parent, my job isn’t to make them into adults. it is to help them become more.
When we actively engage becoming, too often we try to make ourselves into someone we are not.
Becoming isn’t about changing to the person others want you to be. It isn’t about lists and rules and six steps to a different you. It isn’t about an outward change that makes you more attractive.
It is about becoming more of who you are.
While we look at our own personalities and gifts and traits, we tend to see trash. Worthlessness. Waste.
But the truth is, there is more to see, if we stop and open our eyes and notice. If you stop and love what is already there.
In your becoming, have you tried to stop being you?
You can leave a comment by clicking here.