Monday, May 21, 2007

All grown up now????

The Cutty Sark caught on fire today in London, which distresses me, they don't know why..this is a tall ship that sailed from London to Japan via Cape Horn in three and a half months...still an amazing time...very very fast. She was being restored so a lot of her decking and spars were stored elsewhere, which is a very good thing.

I have to say for the local construction guys, they are toning down now that it is getting hotter and hotter, maybe their willies are over-heated...there is one fellow who sings flamenco while he works, to my uneducated ear, he sings it well. It is certainly different from what I am used to.

Trish had a piece up bemoaning her temporarily perceived lack of qualification to be an adult. It made me think. When I was a kid, I thought that being an adult meant that you had gotten to the stage where you were sufficiently solvent/organised/disciplined that you always had cash in your wallet. Haven't gotten there yet.

Being grown-up sometimes looks from a child's eyes as simply a matter of size and age. Once you get there, and I have turned 40 in the last few months so I must qualify as an adult by some definitions, you discover that in a lot of ways it feels like a bluff. Really, sometimes I feel no more qualified than I was at 16, although I know that neurologically I am a different person, and financially, and experientially.

What makes someone a grown up? I don't think that it has to do with having the answers, or the bank balance, or simply the age. There are plenty of aged people that haven't got the sense of a toddler...

I think that it is developing the ability to deal with adversity with grace...something I still need work on. It implies a certain level of foresight, which is painful absent in the vast majority of teenagers, and unfortunately in some adults, and many cultures...I hesitate to say, but believe, that our western culture is not grown-up...we lack the foresight necessary to make reasoned and reasonable decisions.

That I think is the other hallmark of adulthood...the ability to make a reasoned decisions. This does not mean that it is necessarily the right decision, but it is a decision arrived at by more than simply instinctive, or animal responses....I see Chuck, the vasectomied, panting heatedly after every female dog, and I am reminded of teenagers, which he is....He has no cultural gilding, nor any ability to reason out his decision.

I also think that adulthood requires a certain level of experience. Not a death of naivete, or innocence...I think there is room for that in a grown-up, and there is room for idealism...I do not believe that one must be cynical to count as an adult, but a healthy sense of caution seems like part of the definition...this, of course ties into the decision making skills. An easing of gullibility as a mark of maturity.

So am I an adult? Though I screw up sometimes, as most of us do. Though I fly by the seat of my pants, as most of us do? Though I have adopted grown-up mentors? Though my wallet is often empty, and it is sometimes, as they say in the Bahamas, "low tide man" as in, there ain't no money right now, sweety.

So who is qualified to be an adult?

I think it comes down to...grace, foresight, reasoned decision making, and an ability to be objective about yourself and your impulses.

What do you think?


kate said...

Hmm, I don't have an answer for this yet, but it is something I've been thinking about (and today I just read the Doing it Differently column over at Literary Mama, and she talks about the same thing, though her situation is different.)

Boo and Trev said...

I don't think you ever really feel like a grown up until you either take responsibility for your parents or they die. Up to then you are still somebody's child.

Beth said...

what makes an adult? I don't really know...I still feel 17 at times. I always thought an adult had a 9-5 job, always had money in their pocket, and didn't have to answer to anyone or anything. I now know, that isn't always the case! age wise, yes, i"m an "adult", but I am still young at heart.

I think it just takes life experiences...the daily decision making(even the hard ones you don't want to make)...and a definite selflessness.

oreneta said...

Kate: I went and read that piece too, her situation is different, but it was very interesting to compare sister and I cooked Christmas dinner, and it did still feel like a major accomplishment. "Look what we did!"

Boo and Trev: Good point. Haven't gotten there yet, thankfully....

Beth: Your right, I think that selflessness is definately part of the equation. And making the hard decisions, whether you get them right or not...