I recently spent some time visiting my granddaughter at her apartment. It was her husband’s birthday and we were all gathered to help him celebrate. My 3-year-old great-grandson, my very first great-grandchild, was showing me his picture books of dinosaurs, his favorite new friends at the moment. I looked at him, all animated and in awe of these great creatures, and marveled at how it was possible that my very first grandchild was now already old enough to present me with my very first great-grandchild, and 3 years old at that!
My granddaughter was not only my first grandchild, but she was the one who taught me how to be a grandma. She called me Grammy, and we did everything together. She adopted gardening when I did and was my constant companion and helper in the garden. Driving around on her big yellow motorized dump truck, a gift from her aunt, she would haul plants and dirt around, and kept my compost pile constantly filled with grass, twigs, weeds, leaves and all manner of debris. She sat with me on the river bank, the two of us so much like Mole and Rat from the Wind in the Willows, and contemplated the wonders of nature. She was a natural student, a wonderfully creative soul, and my best friend. I never wanted her to grow up. I wanted her to stay 4 years old and hang out with me forever. I used to tease her: “I wish you could put something on top of our head to keep the little you inside so you don’t have to grow up.”
I thought about that at the birthday party as I marveled at how big my great-grandson had gotten over the winter. I told my granddaughter what I had been thinking and she smiled. “You know,” she said, “that whenever you said that to me, even though I knew you were teasing, I used to go home and crunch myself down inside, trying to hold the big me inside and not let her out. I wanted to stay small, too, and play in the garden forever.” I was moved to tears by what she said. On the one hand, I never knew that she had done that and it spoke to the influence we adults have over children. On the other hand, I realized that as much as I wanted her to stay little forever, I was doing her a grave injustice by saying so.
We serve no one by staying small, least of all ourselves. We cannot halt the passage of time any more than we can change the weather to suit us. The same holds true for how we live our lives. When we “live small,” we do not live authentically, because living authentically requires that we reach inside ourselves and stand tall, fill in all the dark spaces with light, and reach for the stars. While living small seems safe, it is actually life threatening. It robs us of the richness of experience and wonder that is out there in the great, big world, a world in which we need to be open to growing and receiving all the blessings that await us. We will never know such joy and richness if we crunch ourselves down and keep holding the “big me” inside.
We all have our moments of wanting to stay small to avoid the pain and anxiety that come with growing up, but we will never know how wonderful an authentic life can be unless we get out there and make one. So the next time you are tempted to stay small, think of a little girl driving a yellow dump truck and conquering a garden with the courage of an adult and get out there. There’s a yellow truck waiting for all of us to get on board and conquer the world!
Over on the home page, our assignment for this week is asking you to dig deep. See you there.
Peace and blessings.