Shedding Shells/Metamorphosis

Sep 20

Continuing on with my reflections from having a garage sale and rereading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s  Gift from the Sea I am also struck by how quickly our weather has turned to the cool crisp air of Fall.  It is fall that is the time of slowing down, shedding , preparing for the winter.  Since I am approaching 50 (next year) maybe that’s why I am thinking about letting go of things, shedding, more and more.  With this garage sale, even my husband was “shedding”, something he is generally more hesitate about.

In Gift from the Sea this is also one of the themes.  She is in the fall of her life – middle age – and writing about it.  “Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.  Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one shed in beach-living; one’s pride, one’s false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor.  Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world?  If one ceases to compete, does one need it?  Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself.  And what a liberation that would be!”Anne’s book is directed toward women.  But I often think that this is not something uniquely feminine, its just that men don’t often have the luxury of stepping back, or at least they think they don’t have that luxury.   People might think they were nuts.  Since I was the spouse who worked outside the home, rather than my husband, my perspectives often feel more masculine to me.  I tend to look at things from the working man’s viewpoint.  I wonder though why not many successful men that I know step back and try to reconnect with their passions and who they really are.  So I am still struggling with people thinking that I am nuts for stepping away from a high paying corporate job to risk our lives/wealth/security to find my passion and be “completely myself”.  I don’t often run across people who have done this – changed in mid-stream at the peak of their business careers to something like art or writing or just plain living.  Am I nuts?  Is this just a fleeting desire that will have to be put aside for more practical matters like security at some point?

I have a good friend, male, who left his corporate job a number of years ago so that he could paint and spend part of his time in Thailand working with orphans.  He was reaching out for his passions in life and letting go of what everyone else thought about his corporate persona.  I kept all this in the back of my mind as I continued to try to figure out how to make something like that work for me.  But now he is going back to a real job for a number of reasons generally based around the need for security.  And so I wonder if this will be my fate in a few years.  Will I go back to the corporate world?  For the moment I won’t let doubts and fears creep in.

I am shedding – shedding my shells of ambition (no corporate titles anymore), material accumulations and possessions (garage sale/thinking of a smaller house), and ego (the hardest one of all – what will others think of ME?).  Can I shed my pride, my mask and my armor and still survive in this world?  I have had such a think shell of armor on for so many years, its hard to caste it aside – but I am trying.  So far, the less I care about what people think of me, the more people seem to think of me.  Isn’t that odd?  Maybe its not.

Is there anybody else out there going through this same metamorphosis?  The literal translation of metamorphosis is “changing” its “form”.

Scientific Tanget:

The metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly has always been fascinating to me.  Not sure if many of you know but the caterpillar turns in to liquid once inside the chrysalid.  The liquid become a medium of stem-cells that form in to the various parts of the butterfly.   This is just amazing to me – this creature sacrifices all that it is to go through this unbelievable transformation.

So I am wondering if it is possible for humans to transform on a personal, though not physical, level that is anywhere near as dramatic.  At times my transformation seems dramatic to me but maybe its not.  So here is to being completely oneself and the liberation that that brings!


After writing this today I heard an interview with Hal Holbrook on NPR talking about his new book.  In the interview he too talked about figuring out who he was.  Listen to the interview at: 

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