Last night, I made a proclamation.
“Tomorrow, I grow up.”
It’s a Facebook Status kind of thing to say. Is it true? Will I grow up today? On the one hand, each day is a growing up into responsibility and freedom. Demands grow, stakes go up, opportunities present themselves with alarming swiftness and fickle timing. Our mistakes get bigger, have weightier, longer-playing consequences, and we can cry in our beer or we can stand up and do the heavy lifting being “grown up” seems to require. We progress like bull and bear markets, inching up, sliding back, making huge gains, crashing on Black Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Growing up has been painful, and will probably remain so. (Big deal, so was playing football.) I’ve wept in frustration many times in my life, cursing the brutal frankness of life’s unrelenting demands. Come hell, death, or high water, life just keeps coming. Incessant, the water torture, the constancy of that frickin’ obstacle (whatever it happens to be) that daily bars the way to the big pie in the sky. And the pie is an illusion anyway, right? So what is all about, and why should I grow up at all? Is it really the most awful, awful thing? We see such promise around us in young people, and yet those of us who’ve lived awhile know the depressing commonness of the best and brightest landing somewhere far below the early buzz about their (terrible word) “potential.”
But as I whine about all this, a voice somewhere inside says, “Grow up.”
Maybe someone needs to stand up for “growing up.” After all, it’s the grown-ups who make not only the darkness of the world (easy to saddle them with that), but the light as well. It’s the grown-ups who have to protect the children, make the art, fix the injustice, stop the nuts who kill lots of folks in a row, battle over what “good” really means in both culture and law, and generally make all the worlds the children walk in. And, by the way, it’s a grown-up thing to do to learn to protect the now-proverbial “inner child” (there’s a term to generate a snicker) that still lives inside, still needs the nurture of the adult. Does growing up by definition mean the death of the child, Peter Pan notwithstanding? What if the child is the one who does the growing up, and thereby retains the possibility of remaining present, vital, and alive? “Growing up” does not, by definition, mean the loss of imagination, the loss of play, or the loss of freedom. In fact, the more heavy-lifting the grown-up does (in terms of shouldering the necessary responsibilities), the stronger she becomes, and the freedom to fully realize the dreams of the child grows.
And dreams are grown-up things. Giftedness, vision, hope, possibility–these require grown-up words like commitment, accountability, determination, and courage. Otherwise, all the great stuff of childhood descends into shrinking, crippling fantasy. A child-like heart fully grown is a very different reality than a grown-up’s self-centered, childish heart. The latter acts like a two-year-old and makes nothing. The former works with an intensity that only be described as full-out, full heart play, and makes new worlds every day.
Yesterday, I wrote of creating spaces and experience wherein people could tangibly encounter the invitation to transformation, and gain a bit more faith that it was actually possible.
That’s a grown up thing to do.
7 Replies to “Growing Up Into Dreams”
What does that even mean? Grown up? It could be argued that on many levels humans do not want to grow up, that it’s their (our) very capricious self interested *nature* that ensures their-our survival as a species. I know many a child whose been forced and stunted by illiberal circumstances to take control (responsibility) of their lives -just to survive. Not all dreams are grown up or even worthy of being grown into. I guess that for me the question is -is there a DREAM far larger, grander and good than the ones we amalgate-mish-mash into being each day?
In other words a dream worthy of being grown into?
Let’s take Kurt, whom i badly miss, Cobain. Driven. Committed. Accountable. And dead. Which perhaps should not be looked upon as a problem since he was going to die at some point anyway.
I think what my brain is trying to tell me is that it doesn’t think all the afore-blogged values are necessarily *grown-up* that BEING grown up is a facade adults use to justify familial, tribal or communal self interests. My brain is trying to tell me that no- one is really grown up and that the humans that are close to being grown-up are those that can admit to the above and out of doing so indeed live toward a dream far larger than themselves their fears or whims and fancies.
Formulaically speaking. Dreams are discourses. Often at odds with the far larger societal discourses. Surviving the friction between the two- well is it that very friction that causes the artist to self medicate or die? MLK. JESUS. GHANDI. M’ X. Think of how extracated discursively speaking those individuals were from the rest of society. Now think of our too soon dead artists. And those are just famous ones. It’s no wonder why folks would want to be grey or common or dreamless. FIGHTING THE POWER MEANS more than just writing songs, scripts or movies about it. The are everyday folks doing it for real at a far greater cost than someone stinking with the odor of self enamored flights of artistic fancy. It seems to me that there is a corollation with just how far ones dream takes them from the societal discourse and how costly that choice may be.
Fair enough. Thanks for the pushback. Well-said.
“Dreams are discourses,” and they are “often at odds with the larger societal discourses” (assumption being that the larger societal ones are always bad?), as you say, but this is not an artist’s peculiarity, but is common to all of us. All I really meant to say was that whether you desire to change the world or write a good book, it’s going to take certain habits of mind and behavior to get it done, and being “grown-up” means shouldering those and getting on with it. Is it a facade? It’s a metaphor. Acorns become trees. Children become adults. There are worlds of metaphors there. Remaining child-like is something the Christ called us to. Growing up into completeness and maturity is the call as well.
So whether you choose to create work that “stink(s) with the odor of self-enamored flights of artistic fancy” or “fight(s) the power…for real”, seems to me you’re going to have to grow up to do it.
No. Thank you. I’ve no idea the cost. The amount you *pay* personally to put words and ideas into being. The gratitude is mine. You have let my pet dawg of a brain run rampant, as dogs do, all over. Again my gratitude to you. Continue to live bravely. And thank you for dreaming out loud