Sunday, December 13, 2009

Growing up in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Almost Home
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and know what peace there may be in silence.”
If we’re lucky to live long enough we’ll get old. We’ll sit be the door of the nursing home, at 95, and wait for relatives to take us out for the day. They will, more often than not, disappoint us by not showing up. Or perhaps we’ll just put down our heads and go to sleep one day and not wake up. The rest of the time we will spend in feigned transparency, stealing kisses in our dreams and wishing that we could remember thus and such so that we could change the outcomes of memories, placing us more firmly in the spotlight; our lives written, produced, directed and starring (who else?) us. After all, we’ll have the right… right? Well, Thank Gawd we’re not there yet, right?
Right now we’re just trying to grow up, right? And that brings us to today’s topic: growing up right.
It’s occurred to me that being grown up goes far beyond just being an adult, it doesn’t come at a certain age and is on no timetable of it’s own. It also has no attraction for me. Being grown up has nothing to do with responsibility, respect, ideology or image; although those all do have significance in the aspect. And, having had no choice in the matter, I can assure you, being grown up sucks.
“As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly…”
Being grown up means that you are no longer allowed to be selfish. Not even in your actions, your dreams or your spare time. There’s no vacation from selfless-ness and you are never off duty, and indeed it is a duty, ask any mother, caregiver or bartender; it’s pretty much a yawner.
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
It’s not that I hadn’t been warned in the past about the necessity of my being more grown up; it’s like being politically correct. It’s the sign of a fully formed person and a pain in the ass. It’s the only right way to live around other people and it’s kind of like being cool: you either are or… you’re not.
There is no faking it; any fabrication, however innocent, will come with complete and utter future distrust and suspicion. You’ll be labeled (and libeled) a loser a poser and a bore. Of course, being a ‘grown up’ usually doesn’t win any Miss Congeniality contests either. It wears on your sense of patience.
What you really want to do is to send the baby to the grandparents until it reaches drinking age. What you really want to do is give the dog something to constipate him so that you don’t have to go for a walk with the hangover that you invested good money in. What you really want to do is throw a fit, stamp your feet, set you hair on fire, curse and tell the person who’s telling you something that’s none of their business (or yours) to shut the !@#$%^&* up. But you don’t because it’s against your better nature. What you do is take a deep breath and you do what’s right. You suck it up (just like you’d like to tell that whiner in your life).
“Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.”
You’re asking a lot of yourself. You’re asking a lot from your gods. You’re asking for divine frigging intervention between your instincts and your ideals. You’re asking theurgy. The faith that you have in the people that you love gets tested on a regular basis, as does the love that you have for people that you have faith in. Too regular a basis for my taste. I’ve found that unconditional love works best, qualified by a deep seated knowledge that it’s for the best that you don’t hang around, talk to or move in with a lot of people that you love. Getting my heart broken puts me in such a disappointed mood… I want to physically kill something, and that’s a not very grown up attitude.
“take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”
It’s the difference between child-like and childish. One is cute and sexy and the other is “yeah, yeah, don’t let the door hit ya where the dog bit ya!”. Being cute and sexy doesn’t mean that you’ve got to be stupid or unconcerned. Thus speaks the Desiderata.
The Desiderata (desired things), of which you have suffered through a few quotation snippets thus far, was written just after Prohibition and right at the beginning of the Great Depression and that about says it all to me. Think about it. The work contains other sage advice such as:
“Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”
. “Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.”
“… in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.”
“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
And certainly my favorite: You are a child of the universe… you have a right to be here.”
These are not new thoughts, they’re the wisdom of the ages and they are the hardest to remember when things around you are falling apart, when you’ve taken shyte up to your chin or when someone reminds you that Frank Sinatra is dead. THEN it feels like a load of crap.
I don’t know about you, but me (?) I hate being broke, I hate being cold and I hate when things go wrong. I want happy endings; and, I’m going to have to read this again to see if I’ll ever grow up.

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