Friday, February 8, 2013

Peter Pan lied!

Let me just say what a swift kick in the britches it is be as old as I am and still such a complete and utter work in progress.  

I may even be getting worse.   

What are the hallmarks of maturity, anyway?  How can you tell you’re grown up? 

That’s right.  I have to ask.  I don’t just know, like, automatically.  (Maybe I’ve spent too much time with teenagers.) 

So, in my saga of self-improvement I’m developing a checklist.  Here we go: 

Age.  Sure, if you’re the literal type.  And I can be.  So of course, age is one facet of maturity.  The concept applies to cheese and to people.  So, check!  Like a succulent Gouda, I have aged. 

My mom used to say that a grownup can carry money without spending it.  Oh hooray.  I’m a big girl now. 

Ripeness.  OK…this could be delicate.  Ripeness implies reaching the fullness of one’s potential.   

Part of me wants to believe I’m still rising in this regard.  Still on the upswing.  In this roller coaster ride of life, I’m still grinning in wild anticipation of what’s to come.  Gravity pulls me back in my seat as I look at the sky and the car ticks its way up the steep, steep grade toward the peak of ripeness - that moment of weightless glee at the top. 

But another part, or perhaps I should say parts, of me must acknowledge that I may have crested the summit a while back when I wasn’t paying attention.  Maybe I missed my peak experience.  Or, maybe, in the continuum of peaks, mine was a middling one, unremarkable in contrast with the surrounding Himalayas.   

Ripeness for me could very well be in the rearview mirror.  Come to think of it, 35 was a excellent year.   

Yep, I may be overripe.  In the vernacular of food preservatives, I could be going bad.   

Uh oh.  That actually explains some things. 

For example:  Some evidence indicates that I’m edging my way down the slope of wisdom, having spent too little time at the pinnacle soaking things in, as it were.  I’m less wise, which is as we know, a gentle way of saying I’m dumber than I used to be.   

This may be an unintended consequence of holding a know-it-all job for so many years.  Whether I ever actually knew anything is subject to debate, but in the role of principal, pretty much everyone treated me as if I possessed oracle-like abilities, especially when they wanted to pass off their freshly created debacle.  Or, folks shuddered in disbelief when I didn’t know the particular thing they thought I should know; the classic case of a lose-loser situation.  

As you can no doubt see, holding such a job for any length of time has the effect of creating a crackpot.  The only difference is now that I’m retired, no one listens to me!  Back in the day when I spouted off, it meant something.  Today, pfffft! 

Yet I’m still cracking wise…Is that maturity, or immaturity?  I prefer to think of it as freedom, but again, no one cares what I think.  It’s an extremely frustrating conundrum.  

I’m less adept on so many levels these days.  Once noted for my poise and serenity in dicey situations (run with me on this), I’ve become fretful and inept.  If I could just stop blurting.  It’s not cute anymore.  Apparently.   

Even as a child I somehow knew the right thing to say and when to say it.  My elders nicknamed me the “Diplomat.”  But those days of respect and elevated status are long gone.  Now at reunions, when my cousins see me coming, they sort of squint and turn their faces to the side, like you do when you hear a first grader playing the violin.   

Remember Mork from Ork?  He arrived on earth as an adult.  And as time passed, he got younger and younger.  The subtext of the script was that children are smarter than adults are.  We should all strive to be more childlike.  Robin Williams has made a good living doing just that. 

But outside of Hollywood, maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.