This I Believe

Zona - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on December 10, 2006
Age Group: 65+


When I was a child, I would often marvel at the absolute certainty of grown-ups. In sharing stories with friends we determined our parents often said the same things and even more amazingly they (the parents) would always be absolutely certain that they were right. So I assumed that would happen to me—I would know with absolute certainty what was right and I would than be a grown-up.

Unfortunately, this has never happened—I have never been gifted with the belief that my position was correct, my view of how other people should live was correct, or have that very clear certainty about what my children or anyone else should do that would make them good people.

This belief that certainty and “grown-upness” were intimately connected has had a funny effect on my life. From a positive perspective, I believe that it has kept the ugliness of judgmentalness from overtaking me; I cannot not see the other side of any position or any set of choices. This can be annoying at times to those around me I know (and myself!) but I believe it has kept me open to new ideas, new possibilities and new perspectives. In aspects of my life where I have had any influence, I believe that I have lobbied more or less successfully for openness and a generosity to the perspectives of others. It sometimes feels as if I have no choice but to hear the small voices of other positions ringing loudly in my head.

From a less positive perspective, I believe that I have at times lacked conviction in who I am and the choices I have made because of that lack of certainty. I find myself looking at others who seem to follow a perspective very clearly as if to find a road map for my own life. Would I be happier, I ask myself, if I gave more of myself to volunteerism; perhaps I should write a book or do presentations; oops, maybe more kids, more commitment to my parents, my siblings—you name it, I have questioned it. I have recently recognized this as my terminal search for being a grown-up and the certainty that is sure to come when I find that place and have arrived.

So, this I believe. I believe that all of us in our own ways are seeking the choices and the knowledge that enable our lives to have meaning and we all do it in the best way we can. Perhaps my childhood belief that there is a certainty possessed by all bona fide grown-ups was just that (a childhood belief) and that in fact, being a grown-up may lead more to questioning rather than certainty.

I certainly believe that I will die not having attained the status of official grown-up, (should my childish view be true) but hopefully there will be increasing peace in the process and acceptance that the search is who I am and what I do. But than I may have to be a grown-up and I am not sure I will know what to do with that.