There was this episode of Grey’s Anatomy….
Dr. Callie Torres, says, “Look at me. I’m in love with a guy who won’t say he loves me back… and here I am in his kitchen cooking, hoping he comes home and notices me. I’m a total freak. I’m the girl in the back of the class who eats her hair…. We’re all seventeen. It’s High School with scalpels.”
I think Dr. Torres was right. We’re all teenagers at times, bringing old thoughts to new circumstances. We should be all grown-up and mature. Yet at any moment, we’re liable to plummet into High School Consciousness.
Do you ever feel like a seventeen year old? I do. High School Consciousness can sneak up on me at any time….
A cute thirty-something boy works the cash register at Sharky’s. He looks like Superman. He appears in-crowd and unattainable. He’s the kind of boy who would have ignored me in High School and this is a quality I can’t resist.
I have an old lady crush on him. Mind you, I don’t want to do anything about it. I am a married, post-menopausal minister. It’s just that I notice myself trying not to stare. I catch myself wondering if I can be witty while ordering my food. Something about this boy summons my three remaining hormones and I’m seventeen again.
I try and change the subject by studying the menu. The Naked Burrito sounds good and it’s low fat, which works for my anti-cancer eating plan. But I’m really hungry and I wonder about portion size.
Will it be enough food for me?
More importantly, can I stand in front of Superman and ask “How big is your Naked Burrito?”
I don’t think so.
So I order the Organic Quinoa Salad. Then I shuffle to a booth to marvel at my immaturity …
A Decrepit Ho:
I know this scenario makes me look like a decrepit “ho,” semi-lusting after a forbidden man-child but I re-live it often. It fascinates me as metaphor.
It is a metaphor for all of us – an object lesson to illustrate how old inner scripts unconsciously prevent us from saying yes to what we truly wish to order from the menu of omnipresent life.
I have literally walked on fire; and I won’t ask this guy a simple question because I might blush or stammer or accidentally look at his pants.
And I understand that it doesn’t matter that I didn’t get the Sharky’s meal I wanted. I rather enjoyed the Organic Quinoa Salad. What does matter though, in fact, where the rubber meets the Naked Burrito, is when High School Consciousness interferes with our highest hopes and hearts’ desires.
Sentenced by a Sentence
My inner seventeen-year old surfaced five years ago, when a single remembered sentence threatened to destroy my hope.
I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. We scheduled a lumpectomy followed by radiation. Yes, I was concerned about the diagnosis, but I was eager to apply my grown-up spirituality and thrive through the experience. I thought positively, I prayed, I affirmed wholeness. I wore my Spiritual Armor like a shield against fear and it worked great.
Then I went to meet my radiologist.
The moment I pulled into the doctor’s parking lot, I remembered my mother who died of breast cancer when I was a teenager. “The radiation department is the most depressing place in the world,” she said to me.
I don’t remember when she said it or why she said it. I know she said it only that one time. I took this random phrase and held it as inviolate truth for thirty years. This memory of my mother’s words drilled holes in my Spiritual Armor.
Outside the Radiation Center in Oxnard, I started to cry and I couldn’t stop. I was certain I was about to enter the most depressing place in the world. I knew my good times were over. I was sentenced to a life of crushing despair. It had to be true. My mother said so.
Part of the healing looked like a cure. I haven’t heard a peep out of cancer for years.
Just as powerful though, was the healing I received when I began to question my mother’s words about radiation. Maybe she was wrong, I said to myself. Maybe I can re-write this story. Maybe radiation is NOT the most depressing place in the world. In other words, maybe I can let go of my High-School-Consciousness and see radiation anew.
I let go of my old idea. Radiation didn’t change. I changed. My perception changed.
The radiation machine was now a Starship Enterprise, representing years of research and goodwill completely focused on my well-being. The actual treatment was a painless motionless meditation accompanied by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. The technicians were kind and the office manager gave me candy after every treatment.
This may sound weird, but I loved radiation.
Loving The Inner Teenager
If I can learn to love radiation, I can learn to love anything. So can you.
Maybe we can even learn to love our inner teenager. Maybe we can learn to love our old stories as part of letting them go.
The inner seventeen year-old can act like a demented bat trapped in an attic, flinging outdated ideas at new scenarios; but teen-energy also contains great power. Think of the enthusiasm, joy, drama and excitement of being young.
Re-direct that energy with proper intention and you will be unstoppable.
How do you re-direct?
If you’re at all like Dr. Callie Torres, seventeen inside and wielding a scalpel, name your scalpel mindfulness, compassion and surrender. Use your newly named scalpel to mindfully notice where the old interferes with the new. Compassionately excise the sentences that sentence you to fear, awkwardness or despair. Surrender to better possibilities with the determination of someone who trusts God completely. Have a sense of humor about all of it. And pray – in other words, stand in front of the menu of omnipresent life – and say yes to what you truly want.
Questions to Ponder:
1. Where do you experience High School Consciousness?
2. How can you use mindfulness, compassion and surrender to change your perception?
3. What would you most like to receive from the menu of omnipresent life?