Shedding our Skins


Wouldn’t it be nice to every once in awhile, sluff off the old things that we are holding onto, or that are holding onto us, the attitudes that define us, the thoughts that won’t grow up?

The boys’ Alligator Lizard shed it’s skin yesterday. It seemed like a very cool thing. Something we should learn about in more detail, come Science Night, but it wasn’t until this morning that I started really thinking about what it would mean for us as people, to completely renew ourselves from time to time.

This isn’t just putting on a new pair of clothes. There is work involved in getting out of the old skin. Think of poor Eustace:

“There once was a boy named Eustace, and he almost deserved it.”

Those are the opening lines of C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in which a grumpy, spoiled, awful boy gets magically turned into a dragon. The scene where Aslan helps him get rid of the scales and become a boy again is one of the most beautifully transformative scenes I recall ever reading anywhere. It is also incredibly painful. But getting to the other side of that pain, getting to the new skin that waits below is such a powerful motivation, that Eustace pushes through the pain to be revealed again as better than he’d ever been before. Renewed, reclaimed, and a joy to know, finally.

Think of our habits that need changing. That is all. We know the things we could work on.

Yesterday Ben asked me, in all honesty, and his voice told me I was not part of a punchline, that he really wanted to know: “If you could do one thing, what would you want to do?” I got tears in my eyes, because from somewhere deep inside came the words, “I would want to stand on a stage and share my poetry with an audience.”

He said, “Mom, from now on, I’m going to support you in your dreams. I’m going to build you a stage in our field, and surround it with bleachers. You can invite people to come, and Dad and Bean and I will be part of the audience too. And you can read your poetry from the stage. I’m going to build it for you, Mom!”

It was out of the blue, but throughout the evening, he kept talking about supporting me in my dreams. We have always been a close family, but this is a change for Ben to think of me in this way, as someone with my own dreams and not just an audience to watch his life unfold. He grew all of a sudden. He has always been a delight, but this change was something beautiful to witness. He made me want to listen more deeply to those around me, to remember that everywhere I look, there are people with dreams, who would like someone to notice, to inspire and support.

2 thoughts on “Shedding our Skins

  1. It is one of my favorites too – and one we have not been able to start as a family. I cannot wait!

    I love your thoughts on transformation. Reducing, I’ve heard “Getting down to my right size.” That fits, doesn’t it? Instead of all we think we’re supposed to be, getting to what we really are and loving it. There is work. That there is!

    And yes, I am daydreaming big time about that performance space for someday!

    I so enjoy your comments!

  2. first: voyage of the dawn treader is my very favorite of the seven. hands down.
    second: i think that’s what’s really behind my general sense of itchiness these days–a desire for transformation. it seems so much more possible to remake oneself–and maybe that’s not even the way i want to say it; to reduce oneself, perhaps?–to what you truly are in a fresh place. this isn’t true, of course. transformation is possible wherever you’re standing but there is work to be done, for sure.
    third: that sweet ben! i can see his performance space for you now. one day, there will be pictures of them here, i have no doubt.

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