KJ Hannah Greenberg

Learning to Pivot

Sometimes, it’s important to be able to adjust one’s direction. In intrapersonal and in interpersonal communication, this proficiency is invaluable.

When I was a small girl, circa 1960s, in character with most of the little girls in my suburban community, I took ballet lessons. I learned to perform the five basic foot and arm positions as well as specific movements such as: plié, arabesque, battement, chassé, and pirouette.

At the time, I was amazed by how deeply I could bend my knees for grande plié, but, moreso, I was startled by how much fun it was to pirouette. Sure, no different from my childhood peers (and my modern grandchildren), I had already held my arms out from my body to helicopter until I became so dizzy that I fell. After all, youths intuitively spin. Nonetheless, doing so, while resembling a flamingo, instead of doing so on two feet, was magical. Ballet deepened my enchantment with birling.

Today, BH, I’m in my sixties. I no more spiral in the manner of a maple seed pod (although I still enjoy opening samaras and adhering their flattened wings to my nose). Given my aging joints and assorted ailments, I can no longer make merry-go-round-like revolutions. In effect, my volute movements are less economical than even those of my computer’s hard disc drives. Whereas earlier, I could wind senselessly, could pinwheel, could circumvolve after the fashion of a vinyl record, and could emulate a tornado, currently, I can’t elegantly or even unimpressively swivel. At least, I can’t do so physically.

That is, my lived decades have improved my prowess with mental gyrations. True, my limbs and trunk lack suppleness. In spite of that, I’ve ripened fresh means of rotating. More exactly, at this time, I revolve attitudes.

Even though minors might not understand (or appreciate) increased cerebral wrinkles, in general, or improved language skills, to be more precise, as anything more than some among the sundry trappings that are typical of accelerated adulthood, I know that these changes are hard-won. The same as most pensioners, I recognize the value of inner growth attendant to aging. Equally, I dream that youngsters, both loved ones and those yet unconnected to me, eventually, will respect wisdoms gained by spans’ of great effort. I, for one, esteem amplified flexibility with oneself and other people.

Tens of years of insight have guided me toward adaptability. Akin to my grandmas and grandpas, I’ve learned how to look past my and other folks’ superficialities (most measures, after all, weigh insignificant attributes.)

Some examples of curving my relationship to myself include allowing myself realistic deadlines when completing projects, accepting my weak ankle (and how it impedes my ability to drive and walk) and, overall, giving myself chizzuk instead of criticism (I was never “prefect” and never will be.) The difference between being six and sixty-something is that, at the moment, I can reassure myself (as I had done with myself per body image, when I was a young woman) that I, as an older woman, can live peacefully with my relative internal growth. What’s more, hopefully, I can stop viewing the ways in which I differ from my peers as weaknesses, and, instead, see those distinctions as visceral “beauty marks,” as the “accents” that make me interesting.

Not only have I learned to contour my thinking a propos myself, but I’ve also learned to round in regard to my associates and strangers. Some examples of my redirection in my interpersonal relationships include remaining silent when my adult children make choices that are less than optimal (but won’t [permanently] hurt them or anyone else), not calling out friends on their pettiness, and thinking positively, i.e., embracing the concept of “dan l’kaf zechut,” in terms of, for instance, unfamiliar persons who innocently elbow me in shops.

Despite the fact  that, long ago, I stopped caring about demographics such as race, income, and more, now, I’m attempting to correspondingly not care about my fellows’ emotional limitations. In Computer Cowboy’s words, if I only befriended people who were never mean-minded, insecure, or elsewise “marred,” I’d have no friends. It’s helpful to grasp that not only do children sometimes act “childish” and that I, anyway, adore my generations and other families’ generations for behaving “normally,” but that adults, furthermore, are naturally one-off and that I ought to adore them, also, for behaving “normally.”

Each of us has been put together just as The Boss wanted us to be assembled, no more, no less, no additions, and no deletions—it’s not my place to judge. Compassion, not reaction suits me best. Straight away, “pivoting,” to older me, means comprehending that the world’s human occupants are as they are meant to be. Instead of viewing myself or others as problem-laden, by mentally twirling, I can seek out and then highlight the good in all of us.

While hitherto, I physically looped like hula hoops, tops, and fan blades, I’m still capable of spinning, of enjoying the breathtaking benefits of eddying through life. I don’t have to approximate my six year-old self since my sixty-something year-old version, too, revels in the giddy feeling that accompanies orbits.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.