Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where Did It Go?

I spent yesterday with my nine-year-old granddaughter, Ava.  Woven into the joy of hanging out together was the wonder at her authenticity.  She is who she is every moment.  She is literally "full of herself."  She delights in her delights and assumes that whatever path she takes will open wide for her.  

She knows what she wants even though those wants seem to go in different directions.  After watching "Monsters Inside Me" (the series on parasites), she wants to be a "diagnoser" but she also wants to be a cartoonist and a veterinarian.  She's sure she'll never mess up her life by smoking or drinking.  I tell her I want to video her saying that because someday she'll be a teenager and may need to be reminded of her young wisdom.
We went to a flea market and I gave her $10 to spend however she wanted.  She made a bee-line for porcelain-faced dolls.  After she bought one or two, I started pointing some out to her but she informed me that she was "very particular" about what she wanted.  I obviously didn't know the inner criteria.  She knows precisely what she wants and how she feels about everything.  When it was time for lunch and I asked her what she wanted, she thought for a moment and then said, "A cheese quesadilla."  The specifics of her wants and desires are crystal clear for her.

What I want to know is where does that clarity go?  What happens to that natural authenticity that seems to go into hiding as we enter our teens?  Is rediscovering it part of this last stage of life?  Now that we've reached a stage where there are fewer expectations of us, does that give us a new freedom to be whoever we truly are?  Are these "encore years" a chance to play at least some of the parts we missed along the way?  

If I were Ava, I wouldn't have to wonder about these questions.  I would just know.  I'd wake up every morning and do exactly what I want to do regardless of what anyone else thought.  Wait a minute, that's what I am doing.  Maybe this is my chance to be nine again.

About this image:  "Insight" ... images taken in Puerto Vallarta.


  1. Well there you are! I was just thinking this morning... Where's Joyce?

    I think it's just part of living -- and learning and growing. We come full circle to what we always knew but thought we had to be wrong because it was so simple -- and life can't be that simple can it? :)

  2. Whoa. We are so on the same page here. We get so lost trying to do as we're told -- those of us who weren't raised by people like Louise who let us just express without defining...

  3. As I read, I was thinking the very same questions you raise; how when we're as young as your grandaughter and speak honestly, everyone marvels; how, when we reach HS and college, the silence descends because we're not supposed to have opinions or "show off" our intelligence; how, post-empty nest, the equation changes again and we start to find the self we pushed down and sublimated to others' wants. Do men go through this?

  4. You sure gave me a lot to think about.. Now, is better then when I was a child, I don't know if I was that clear with my thinking then. We also can get away with more again in later years.. as well as when a child is small, maybe not thought of as, "cute" however..
    They spoke about being an Oak Tree, or bending like the Willow, at PLC this morning, missed you..