This makes me laugh. Yesterday’s quote was about our inability to change something until we accept it. Today’s is about the terror one feels when accepting oneself completely. Knowing me, I’m going to try to tie it all together and make fun of Jung at the same time. ‘Cause he’s dead and he can’t fight back.
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
― C.G. Jung
Ya wanna know something really hilarious? I screwed this up royally when I read the quote the first time. I mentally replaced “accept” with “love” and I was off to the races quoting Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, and going all wedding “love is patient, love is kind” on us all and about 3/4 through I was stuck. I got to writing about my mom, how she’s aging and how it’s been hard; I felt she never really loved herself and then I wrote about unconditional love and I got sick of it all and so I looked at the quote again and saw accept and I picked up my laptop and hurled it across my backyard, pulled a shotgun from my sleeve and made like I was skeet shooting. I blew my MacBook Pro to “smithereenies” as Yosemite Sam would say.
Then I reached into my silk pajama pockets, pulled out another laptop and started this post. Just like they do on Looney Toons. Y’know how time flies on Looney Toons (I’ve written about this before) when Bugs Bunny orders something and puts the order envelope in the mailbox and a second or two later a truck from Acme Earmuffs screeches up and the driver yells, “Daaah, package for Bugs Bunny!”? That’s how it is with me and my laptops.
So I’m back on my laptop. Let’s stop the count at 1400. I’ve taken up enough of your time.
I’m 45 now. I’m nothing like I used to be about myself even five years ago. I was relentless on myself, physically demanding and constantly self-critical. That’s what kept
me feeling alive; that’s what kept the engines running chaos flowing. I admit, that my kinder, gentler opinion of myself is easier on the knees and lower back, but I believe for me anyhow that the most terrifying thing would be for me to be completely complacent with myself and never want to be fitter, healthier, smarter, kinder, gentler again. I just don’t think I’m genetically engineered that way. I always see room for improvement, but I don’t mean that in a critical way, I mean it as a term of growth, of wholeheartedness.
I realize that there are thresholds, that we have age categories now for athletic events: masters, seniors… dead. But, I really think that for me, to be completely accepting of myself would be a mistake; it’s not terrifying to me to consider it. It just feels too close to giving up.
I do accept myself: I’m slower than I used to be; my hair is finer and grayer than ever; I still have time until my boobs resemble the “golf ball in the tube sock” as a good friend once described her own years ago and she made me almost pee from laughter; my skin is more loose than I’d prefer, my up-close eyesight is going; parts of me jiggle without me moving; sometimes I don’t sleep well at all anymore; all of these things are happening and I accept them. I don’t adore them, but this is part of my acceptance that I’m human. Maybe that’s what he’s talking about — our humanity, our mortality, our universality and connection with one another… that in order for me to accept me, it would follow that I accept you … all of you, even the Osama bin Ladens out there… I know that would be hard, to let evil continue with acceptance. That my fight against evil is finite, as finite as my heartbeat. That’s terrifying, I suppose, that when it comes to putting up a good fight that I might be inert. That I can’t protect my brood from evil and harm. That terrifies me.
I see myself in the mirror and sometimes I look like a headline: “45-year-old Virginia Woman Wakes Up” but what can I do? I will continue to stay fit, push my cardio threshold for a few seconds longer, eat well and care about my health, but I get it: I am on the downhill slope now; only one of my relatives has made it past 90. And the one who’s still here, she’s a firecracker, but in my family, she’s an anomaly.
I see it as a good thing that I’m on the descent now — not so much that my best years are behind me, but that my most stressed years about my appearance, about my competitiveness, about my rightful place in the sun… those concerns are still there, but they don’t matter so much anymore. It’s about health now, not super-awesome fitness and trying to look good in Lycra.