Friday, June 26, 2009

Do Ya Wanna Grow Up?

What does it mean to be a "grown-up"? I started asking people this question the other day. It quickly became clear that very few have seriously thought about this. Almost everyone felt adulthood to be a burden to some degree. The differences were mainly of degree of acceptance. Surprisingly, no one considered it a purely chronological event. In other words, reaching the age of majority does not automatically make you a "grown-up". Although most people I talked to were surprised to be asked such a question, all were eager to discuss the subject once broached. Responses fell into two main categories.
The quickest responders said something along the lines of, "I'm not a grown-up. I'll never grow up!" Interesting, age was no indicator of this attitude. These people associated growing up with capitulation to conformity and the end of laughter. They refuse to let play turn to drudgery and growth to stagnation. Their childhoods tended to be curtailed or unsatisfactory in some way. The adults in their lives were not positively perceived, as a rule. They also had some experience of being outcast from society. Personally, I am more sympathetic to this view.
Those who did consider themselves "grown-ups" were slower to reply. All these mentioned responsibility to others, usually family. Those without family ties felt a responsibility to their social roles. They expressed a wistful nostalgia for childhood, lacking in the other group. Their conception of adulthood was also tied to externalities, such as appearance, and specific milestones, like becoming a parent or building a career. They were generally more conservative. As children, they were more likely to look up to adults.
I, who am naturally introspective and have had more time to think about it, proposed another definition. When presented with it, everyone I spoke to thought it appropriate. It is likely that this agreement reflects the culture of the Cascadian region, where I am. To me, being a grown-up means not needing to be told what to do. It means I have the emotional maturity and experience to make my own decisions, based on actual requirements instead of inflexible rules. I think this instinctive claim to sovereignty underlies both the conservative aversion to government interference and the liberal philosophy of tolerance. I wish the former would be more willing to extend this freedom of self-determination to others and the latter would realise that responsibility can't be legislated.
Sadly, the way our civilisation is set up discourages (or even forbids) this sort of personal sovereignty. Our religions demand infantile obedience. Our economic systems in particular, are rooted in a coercive "stick and carrot" mentality that assumes our inability to regulate ourselves. We are encouraged to believe that chaos would ensue if we didn't have some authority figure standing over us with a whip in one hand and a big bag of toys in the other. The opposite is true. A proliferation of rules and regulations in every area of our lives denies us the right to ever make responsible choices for ourselves. Our ability to self-determine atrophies from lack of use. As a result, we remain forever childish. We are rendered unable to trust ourselves or each other. All this is no accident, and a dream-come-true for the control system. Is it any wonder that most of us consider being a "grown-up" such a drag?

4 comments:

  1. A very interesting blog, I was amused by the many who do not perceive age to be a factor of " growing up ". If we eliminate time and choose to evaluate the question from the perspective of godself a more pure answer can be derived. Firstly, we must consider three separate aspects of our being; the physical, mental and spiritual. As one passes from life to life one will ascertain to develop these three aspects of being. Obviously understanding spiritual ascention is the final key. Once one can experience the godself then perfection will be realised at all three levels. I maintain that an individual can certainly not be considered " grown up " until the spirit soars.

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  2. Hi Sweetheart, when I said that age was no indicator, I was refering to the fact that chronologically, two of the people who gave this response were 54 and 71 years old. As far as spiritual development being key, you hit the nail on the head. One would need to have that connection to really be able to trust their own inner direction. For want of a compass the ship would be lost at sea.

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  3. Four, My Secret Muse


    I.

    We try to tell you
    explain so clearly
    you must need so badly
    to be blind
    What twisted so
    maliciously your mind?
    Is it your God -- Created
    that greedy leaders may
    more easily prevail?
    Is it guilt and shame seeded
    by consistent training insisting that you fail?
    Enemies of chaos, steeped in fear
    "Anything I will to you; just save me!"
    Lost to balance, lost to whole
    possibilities, splintering reality,
    losing consciousness, losing
    the ability
    to be free
    or sane
    Fighting off complexity with
    angry names, a screen of stones
    thrown in bloody sacrifice
    Eternal life is yours, we scream
    While you destroy your birthright
    in service to
    a conjured dream
    of denial


    II.

    We who endure that searing penalty
    for being born other than imperial
    for being torn into what we
    are told is real
    without power to protect
    ourselves from venal human scum
    brothers of the order
    spreading hatred
    like any venereal disease
    We no longer need to meet you
    cowering on our knees
    Ordained in derisive delight
    enlightened, relieved of our plight
    It's yours now to decide: flight or
    frightened obeisance.
    Karma's a hot potent bitch
    unschooled in mercy
    (education cuts don't guarantee
    ignorance of what is taught
    on these mean streets)
    Witches reclaiming noble heritage,
    reframing herstories
    can no more be beaten
    by usurped power.


    III.

    Listen, little one, we will prevail
    Though born and forced to serve in
    our master's jail
    watching every moment for our chance
    we will break free
    to adventure, romance
    dancing away the chill of
    foreign hills
    etched in leaves and grass;
    hiding in enchanted castles,
    lost and lonely midst the masses,
    masked to fit expected forms,
    but it's just for a bit while we learn
    new norms, learn to become what
    we were from the start
    Each a creature alive to the beat
    of our own-reasoned heart


    IV.

    Such ugliness in this beautiful world.
    I blame us.
    (No, not Americans, you anti-blame-America first crowd)
    Homo saps --
    amazingly creatively obscene.
    Mundanely capable of barbaric acts
    I don't want to imagine are we
    It is hard for me to know how to feel.
    Thinking peace, sweetness and light,
    to attract what I desire
    feels phony.
    Anger feels nonproductive --
    a tightening in my heart shrieking:
    "Let it be done with!"
    Seeking for another world to find
    a fantasy respite, tightly aligned to
    a bright inner sphere, binding to what
    I hold dear, holding on for dear life,
    would certainly simplify my dilemma.
    I wish I could remember when all was
    certain, life assured by Jehovah, or one of
    His supplicants. That was before the
    Awakening, when everything
    woke up different, less defined.
    Somewhere in my convoluted mind I know
    is the answer.
    Penultimate questions line up
    for Communion. Holy guests
    fly in mage's mass.
    Lightning strikes
    presaging cognition.
    Key's in the ignition.
    Let's go for a ride to some other side.
    If we ever get back, nothing will be
    the same. Unleashed from the pain,
    designated renegade. Learning to fly,
    escape from the herd hate stone,
    can't be as hard as learning to stand
    alone.

    7/11/09 libramoon

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  4. Thank you Libramoon. That was beautiful.

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