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Salvator Rosa: Diogenes Casting away his Cup (1650s)
"GrowingDown seems a just reward after failing to fully grow up."

I have been growing up for most of my life so far. I've tried to put down roots but with mixed results. Between attempts, I felt as if I was living in a planter, free to grow up, but restricted in how far down I could sink roots. I've experienced at least my share of transplantings, each traumatic, a few promising. My eyes were mostly on the sky, though, more concerned with seeing where I was going then delving into where I was growing. Aspiration can transport almost as thoroughly as physical relocation. Eyes on the prize do not see the present and one can live much of a life somewhere else, head if not actually in clouds, focused there. Trajectory seems calculated up to but not actually into any destination. Careers, marriages, aspirations easily focus upon advancement rather than placement. Where am I? seems less interesting than Where I am going, intentions too easily supplant presence. I'm intending to go nowhere now. I'm SettlingInto here, finally GrowingDown.

Growing up seemed a succession of passing throughs, each pause more of a layover than an arrival.
Another alluring objective appeared and I would be out of there. I notice that I'm no longer trolling for the sorts of attention that might advance me or my interests. I feel just fine where I am, digging in and setting deeper roots than any exile manages. I feel fortunate that some roots I set down here two decades ago were waiting for my return. A more mature yard greeted me, one without all those bushes and trees that met me when we first moved in. I swear that I spent the bulk of my time here before unplanting and digging out roots rather than laying them down. The oleanders had to go, and most of the arborvitae. What's left have deep roots. They do not droop when unwatered through a hot spell. I hope to become that resilient here, GrowingDown.

I found scores of pots I'd stored in the garage overhead before we left on exile. There were still intact, perfectly preserved as if monuments to our aspirations then. Annuals mostly, they came and went quickly, however deeply their roots sunk in their single short season. I'm recycling those pots, no longer seeing the need to retain them. Likewise the pots I so carefully boxed for transport out of exile sit largely unused here. I'd thought that we'd continue populating porches with potted plants, seasonal color, but we haven't. We have railings nicely decorated with planters, but rely upon perennials' deeper roots to entertain us. Life has become holographic, the unused pots insisting that we set down deeper roots, that we should be GrowingDown here now.

Each day another anchor appears before me, another reason to simply stay. The Muse left this morning for a trip back home. Her Uncle Vic died and this might be the last gathering of that extended family. That generation's almost gone, GrowingDown that final six feet. I stayed here because it's back home for me. After decades of traveling back home, I'm back and undisposed to travel anywhere, back or ahead. I'm not dead yet. I'm still growing, just in a different direction and with different intentions, down and deeper rather than up and ever higher. I suspect that this means that I've become. I might be the one I'd always hoped to be. I aspire to little different. I fell short on some advancements and overshot others, but I'd rather it was the way it was rather than any different, with only a few notable exceptions evident. GrowingDown seems a just reward after failing to fully grow up.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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