Monday, March 23, 2009

being an adult ... or a kid

Did you ever catch yourself playing grown-up? You know, serious, adult, informed, not giggling ... and you just catch yourself at it? Of course, 'adulthood' may be what the circumstances may call for, a kind of gravitas that fits the occasion ... and then you catch yourself at it. And maybe wonder where it came from or whether you'll ever get over it ... whether there will ever be a place where you can be your whole self instead of just, somehow, a partial picture.

And perhaps it makes you giggle.

Or perhaps it makes you weep...

This partial picture.

When I was little, my mother overheard me playing cowboys with a friend in the basement. We had seen a lot of Saturday matinees in which there might be a fade-out from the growing and uncertain boy to the grown, competent man and my mother overheard me saying, "Now it's ten years later and we're all grown up."

Or maybe there's a period during which you feel very together, very Buddhist, very stock broker, very mom, very farmer, very car mechanic, very whatever and things are going fine. You are in the groove, sure of your place and understanding and adulthood when all of a sudden your inner kid comes calling ... big-time: Maybe it's an overpowering desire for something or someone; maybe it's a sense of helplessness that only a kid can feel; maybe it's a foot-stomping anger laced with all the cuss words that can so delight a child's mind. Whoosh! -- from adult to a kid in 0.02 nanoseconds. And you wonder how you got there and whether you'll ever get over it. You know it's only a partial picture, but for the moment it's the only picture there is. And perhaps you wonder if there will ever be a time when you can be your whole self and not just, somehow, a partial picture.

Buddhism is good for this kind of stuff. Buddhism welcomes kids and adults. It also asks the loving grandmother's question, "How many pictures can there really be?" How many masks can you put on before you face gets chafed? How many adulthoods can you assert before you run out of steam? How many floors can you stomp before your foot gets sore? How many distinctions can you make before it's just too tiring and, what the hell ...

You might as well giggle.

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