I had two bowls of cereal for dinner the other night.
The next morning, I went out and played my worst game of pickup basketball … ever.
Afterwards, while I sat dejected on the grassy side of this Santa Monica basketball court overlooking a sun-splashed Pacific Ocean, I posted on Facebook that I’ve decided it’s time for me to grow up. That at 39, I need to stop eating like a 9-year old boy and start consistently eating like a Man. That’s all I said. It’s time for me to grow up.
Immediately, I started getting playfully serious comments like, “Don’t ever grow up!” and “Growing up is so overrated!” Then there were those who wanted to know what kind of cereal I had before they made their judgment, as if it mattered whether it was Fruit Loops or Wheaties. I had breakfast cereal for dinner! Two bowls of it!! That’s not a sufficient dinner for a grown Man, even if I am single.
As I sat watching all these comments come in, encouraging me to never grow up but maintain a youthful spirit, I reflected on how poorly I showed up on the basketball court.
I thought about how little energy I had. I thought about my “dinner” last night, the dinner I failed to eat the night prior, the sugary cupcakes I consumed earlier in the day. I also thought about how I rarely went to bed before 1 AM every night. I also realized I had eaten no breakfast, not even a banana, before air-balling normally easy shots.
I then asked myself, how else is my poor self-care reflecting in my life? I thought about how sleepy I sometimes am when trying to write blogs. How I wake up groggy and foggy almost every morning, and then drag myself through the day.
As friends playfully pushed back at my insight, I felt my resolve steel. It really is time for me to grow up. Not to grow old or cold, but to grow up.
We associate growing up with losing our sense of wonder, our taste for mystery and thrill. We think it means turning reluctantly towards the “serious” things in life (whatever the heck those may be) and pushing aside the desire to play and laugh. We pity those whom we think have grown disillusioned to their dreams and willingly taken on the stagnant, boring life of a grown up. Deep inside, it horrifies us that we might accept the same dreadful fate for ourselves. Many of us already have. So we play Peter Pan and shout out, “Never grow up!!”
And then we grab our cereal bowl and almond milk and prepare dinner.
Look, it’s way too easy to stop seeing the world with fresh eyes, to think we’ve got it all or even most of it figured out. Once we reach the point where we no longer live in wonder, we settle into routine boredom or slowly torture ourselves with that inescapable angst that persistently insists something isn’t quite right with our lives. We then start making practical decisions to live responsibly, all the while blind to the wacky divine comedy constantly carrying on around us.
But this is not growing up!
This is growing foolish, old and cold!
Growing Up simply means taking complete responsibility for my choices: who I spend time with, the work I choose to do in the world, the thoughts and beliefs I take action on, the conversations I engage in, how I take care of myself, what I put inside my body and – speaking as a man – who I put my body inside!
Growing Up means looking honestly, with courage, at my own life choices, and outward towards what I see in the world. It means deciding with conviction where I will make my stand for my own well-being, in harmony with the whole. Growing up means everyday asking the questions, How can I best show up in the world with my unique gifts on offer? How can I proactively work to create what my deepest heart wants to see? How can I be a stand for truth, wisdom, wonder … for love?
It is absolutely time for me to grow up. That is why I’m not eating cereal for dinner anymore. It’s also why I’m committed to getting my body into bed before midnight (on nights I’m home, anyway, for I’m still single and searching). I’m shifting a lot of things: less sugar, more responsible dating, heeding my hell yes!, consistent meditation practice, etc.
I simply must take better care of myself if I’m going to give my full gifts to the world … including on the basketball court.
None of my new Grown Up pledges involve wondering less or denying the ineffable mysteries of it all. Nor do they involve playing or laughing less. Quite the opposite. One of the most important things we grown ups can learn is to play and laugh regardless what life throws at us. That’s one area grown ups have an advantage over children. We can learn to laugh at anything, even when we don’t get what we want.
In that way, children sometimes act older than a grown up.
Where in your life would choosing to grow up make a meaningful difference in how you show up?