Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another orbit round the sun

Today is my birthday. In past years on my birthday I've written a list of things I am grateful for, one for each year of my life. I am disinclined to do that this year, not because I am not grateful, but because my mind is less on my birthday than on the death of Lou Reed. If you don't know who Lou Reed was, look him up. He was a musician who helped me and untold others. He is one of the people I am grateful for.

I am also getting sick and can feel my synapses being occluded by a cold, so I don't want to be that thoughtful right now.

I don't want to abandon this birthday tradition entirely, so let me instead think a little bit about what it means to be a grown-up.

I marvel that I have lived this number of years. My image of grown-up is very much informed by the tv I saw as a child and by the things I observed in the adults around me. Grown-ups are self-assured. They always know what to do. They have the answers. Right?

I keep thinking I will be grown-up when I hit a given milestone and then I will know the answers, too. When I own the right things or have the right degree. If I had children. If I drink martinis or scotch. If I learn to wear makeup. I will find the right button to push, suddenly becoming a grown-up. I will know the answers. Because tv says that grown-ups know what to do.

I think we need a new model of what it is to be a grown-up, one with more flexibility. One where a grown-up can still splash in puddles. Where you can be a beginner at any age without it being something worth commenting on. A version of grown-up that allows for wonder and whimsy as well as responsibility and wisdom. A kind of grown-up who doesn't have the answers, but is willing to find out. Maybe the problem is with the phrase - grown-up implies that you stop growing. I never want to stop growing, exploring, learning.

Maybe being a grown-up, at it's most minimal, is being aware that you don't know everything and you are willing to move forward anyway. Maybe a grown-up is someone who takes responsibility for their actions, and the other milestones (owning stuff, degrees, etc) are all window dressing.

What do you think? At what point did you feel like a grown-up? What are your standards for being grown-up?

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday belated as it is... I think I'm coming down with your cold... Can I catch it a million miles apart? (Did I ever tell you the story of some brain test they were doing on me and one of the questions was how many miles was it to California and the answers were like 500 or 3000 or 10,000 or 150,000 miles. I confidently answered 150,000 miles - I was wrong womp womp) so we probably aren't a million miles apart but I also probably can't blame you for my cold huh?

    Anyway I loved this! I always think - hmmmm if this is what the grown ups around me felt like when I was a kid they sure did a good job faking it!

    And you can splash in puddles forever ;-)


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