Monday, August 24, 2015

Being a Grown Up

I went with my son and his friend to a local town fair yesterday. I hope to always enjoy this experience because it teaches me so much about myself. At the fair, I don’t have to grow up –in fact, everyone’s young and beautiful (well…) and I can spend money liberally, eating what I want, and go on death defying rides, all of which are things that prove that I am immortal! You know the place: carnies hawking their wares and experiences, pigs racing, trailers being pulled, fried this and that, bad-for-you Italian Sausages (but oh, so good!), pigs and camels and gargantuan pumpkins and cows and the smell of horse poop in the evening. As I moseyed about mostly alone, I decided to spend time greeting the creatures and happily reached over to pet a smaller cow. This went well for a moment until I realized the animal had lassoed my shirt in its large mouth and was quickly drawing me in, far closer than I wanted to be! My favorite moment was at the magic show when a pigeon appeared out of a balloon much to the amazement of the four year-old volunteer from the audience who was on stage holding the balloon. Before she returned to her seat, the magician asked her what she wanted more than anything else “to take home” with her and she said, “My friends.” Made me laugh and made me cry, though I’m not sure in which order.

Childishness is one thing but foolishness belongs almost entirely in the realm of so-called adulthood. And by the time we’re considered to be a grownup we will definitely have crossed paths with many a fool. The best response when this happens is to keep walking and ignore them and if that’s not possible, then a cautious and respectful engagement is the called-for protocol. (But more on this topic in another blog post.) What I’m trying to say is that it’s time for every adult to grow up, and growing up isn’t easy, in part because people disappoint us and we often disappoint ourselves by our own bad choices and thinking.

In an ideal world, it’s a wonderful thing to be a child. Toddler bowel movements are celebrated by attentive adults, and any attempt at singing or dancing is met with praise from admiring big people. And all but the most cynical among us enjoy watching children at play. I loved watching my kids play, even when I was irritated by their lack of responsibility! Adults are always telling kids to “grow up!” but it’s the job of the child to play hard. Playing is for them a serious business! (I wish I could watch my little ones play again. I’d just sit on the porch and applaud. And join in more often than I did.) Of course, we should all continue to play long into adulthood. In fact, the idea of the good life and “doing what you love with the people you love” – which is sadly unattainable by most- is a celebration of this. But every one of us needs time off to feel that childlike freedom, to recreate, to stop in occasionally at a local Vanity Fair, to ‘vacate’ our normal patterns, to get away from life-as-we-know-it. That’s a good impulse, this yearning for a holiday, this need for a Sabbath break, which I think is woven into all of us and something we desperately need to heed, for resistance can lead to dis-ease, dismemberment (we all need to be included as members, to belong is an essential and good; question is: to what do we belong?) and certainly a dislocation for where and who we long to be. So, yes to play and yes to rest!

All I really want from this life is to be as complete and whole a person as I can be and I also want to take a few friends along on the journey with me. But that second part is probably misguided, the little kid version of reality. What I’m learning is that being an adult means making room for those who are different or flawed, because the measure of maturity, the cost of adulthood, is about learning to care again, for others and for myself -maybe especially for myself- and if that makes me an awesome friend, then I’m willing to give this growing up business another chance.

Our Abraham, pausing from a moment of serious play in the summer of his third year.




  1. Olá, acabei de ler o livro " A estrela nunca vai se apagar" e confesso que chorei muito. Entendo o motivo que levou Esther a ser tão amada, pois pelo poder dos seus relatos eu senti a angustia, o sofrimento dela, assim como o amor. É como se eu tivesse vivido ao lado dela, é como se fóssemos velhas conhecidas. Sou grata pela existência e Esther e espero veemente que ela consiga inspirar e fornecer amor a mais pessoas, mesmo estando em uma outra passagem da vida.

    Kamila Stephany - Brasil - Sergipe