It was the late 90’s, and I had been living with my parents to save money. My niece had come to visit, and she might have been maybe three or four years old.
“Are you a grown-up, Beth?”
I laughed. “What do you mean? I’m almost the same age as your parents.”
“But you don’t have any kids.”
Ouch. Yes, it was a humbling experience for me to be living with my parents with no husband in the near future. Now that my niece was forming her opinions of what a “grown up” was, I didn’t fit into her description.
As I arrive at the halfway point of a century of living, I still don’t feel much like a grown up. Yes, my many tribulations and triumphs have etched themselves into my psyche and my forehead. But inside, I still have the restless spirit of a 25-year-old.
No, I haven’t met the expectations that my 25-year-old self put forth. I wanted to be married, preferably to someone rich. I wanted a few kids. I wanted to be “settled down,” according to my Aunt Peggy. This meant owning a nice house, attending my children’s plays and sports events, and playing tennis at Forest Hills.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” Pema Chödrön
I suppose I could have stayed in my job at WJZ, perhaps settling down somewhere. Instead, I felt my life getting stale. So I uprooted everything familiar to move to Alabama to pursue a graduate degree. I knew no one, even though a friend from my bible study referred me to a friend of hers in Tuscaloosa. Her typical Southern Hospitality would offer me a place to stay before my apartment was ready.
Life in Dixie was truly an education of mind, spirit, and emotion. I would muscle through to get my master’s degree and Ph.D. in five years. I would rekindle my faith in the Catholic Church. I would learn the deep, dark cave of attachment through a toxic relationship.
In Mississippi, I found deep peace in solitude. One thing about finding peace with your restless spirit is you have to be confident and settled in yourself. I learned in Mississippi that the only person who I would truly be with the rest of my life is myself. So I had to be happy with myself first and foremost.
My restless spirit would then take me to Florida, where I would quickly dive into my church and fitness community. Some places I thrived, some areas I failed. For a while, I thought about settling down there, but God had other plans.
So now I find myself in a new community. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for almost 10 months. But I said to my spiritual advisor, “I’m waiting for my next adventure.” My restless spirit is yearning to move onto something new, something different. I don’t think turning 50 is too late to venture onto a new shore.
“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” St. Augustine
No, Abby, I guess I’m not a grown-up.