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Ripe Pickin'

By John Amodeo

MATURITY? Oh no, not that. Who wants to be mature? It sounds stiff, stuffy, and old! No one wants to be accused of that in our youth-crazed culture. A mature relationship? Sounds like no fun at all! If we were mature, we might have to look at ourselves when a relationship flounders. Why take any responsibility for conflicts or difficulties? Why consider that we may have played a part in a relationship's demise or give even a fleeting glance to the legacy of broken hearts we may have left behind? It's more satisfying to blame, accuse, and complain: "There are just no good men around!" "Women are so bitchy and unreasonable!"

There's no surplus of psychologically healthy, love-ready human beings without emotional baggage. But it's unpleasant to consider that we may be among the wounded souls who push away the very love we want. It's easier to see others' flaws than perceive our own, to notice how we've been hurt rather than recognize how we've hurt others, even if unintentionally.

"Mature" evolved from the word meaning "ripe." It implies a full glow--sweet, full of flavor, ready to be enjoyed. Entering our 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond is an especially ripe time to enter a path toward deeper love because we can draw from a wealth of life experience. Maturity means finding the courage to look at our own dark side and how it plays itself out in the arena of our relationships. It means taking responsibility to heal our own wounds and defensiveness so that we become more safe, approachable. It means developing the skills and awareness necessary to connect with our own authentic heart, while simultaneously connecting with the hearts of others. It means learning how to create an environment that invites love toward us and allows new depths of intimacy to unfold. Moving toward maturity may also mean seeking help that's available in our community--perhaps therapy, workshops, or groups.

Before we can find true love, we may need to abandon hope--not in love itself, but in love's alluring cousin: naive, romantic love. Rather than lament that something we've always longed for has never happened, we can commit ourselves to learning how to have a more intimate relationship with ourselves as a prelude to having one with others. We may then delight in the rich and vital partnerships and friendships available to those who've examined themselves deeply enough to know how to dance in the light and in the darkness.

John Amodeo, Ph.D. , is author of the new book 'The Authentic Heart: An Eightfold Path to Midlife Love.' He practices psychotherapy in the Sebastopol area and San Rafael.

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From the March 15-21, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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