“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:11
(Yes, I acknowledge that the Bible can have quotes of note! Those long dead men sure did have quite the turn of phrase at times…)
I think that society at large has taken the above quote too much to heart – misinterpreting and twisting it along the way!
(Saying that, there are a variety of ways the quote could reasonably be construed…)
During a period of external monotony at work yesterday, my mind wandered off through the passages of time, arriving some twelve or thirteen years in the past. My mind’s eye gazed upon a boy, alone yet not lonely, lost in a world (predominantly) of his making. With the aid of an assortment of toy franchises, he’d sculpt himself a world of wonder where anything but shit happened. Secret mountain headquarters; a plague of mutant potatoes; heroes transforming and going “Power Extreme!!” in order to save the day from evil racist police officers and viscous (sic) Rock Lords – all this orchestrated by a boy of a less cynical time than the present (although things are less jaded than, say, five years ago). The boy, bright-eyed, laughed, cried, danced and waved, unabashed and unashamed….occasionally he’d let his friends in on the game with the game inviting them to “Transform and roll out!” with him…
Then one day, the boy “put away [his] childish things” and went to sleep; he occasionally gets up for a glass of water, or to go to the toilet, but it’s always slumber to which he returns….
But this story is not unique to this one child; across his street, his city, his country, his world, the same basic story has played out for all of his peerage…
Will these children wake to a new dawn?
Why has the cry to “put away childish things” been translated as a stern command to suppress all that was good about childhood? Why is the repression of one’s vitality, creativity, sense of wonder and heroism seen as “grown-up”?
I remember something one of my old English teachers said: “There is a difference between being childlike and childish“. I carried these words around with me for many years, understanding them on a purely cerebral level; only now am I beginning to truly appreciate them….
The trouble with most people is that they see the “child” state as a package deal, damning both the good and the bad parts of their younger selves. The irony being that in trying to throw the child in oneself to the wayside in order to conform to a (false) model of maturity, they often fall prey to those childish impulses they refuse to own and acknowledge – in effect they hamper our maturation process in trying to deny our the existence of our previous state. Yet isn’t true maturity an expansion, that is, building upon what one already knows?
It seems people are eager to throw away what was before, maybe out of shame or maybe to fit in, or whatever. Yet, isn’t it often said that those who forget the past are destined to repeat its mistakes?
Thus we act like total fucking children (in the worst sense) in areas of our lives which require a truly mature frame of being…sabotaging ourselves and others in the process…
This is what happens to those who declare they never needed to stand in order to walk – the fuckers end up tripping over and falling!
People who actually give a shit about something or other – especially something with childlike connotations – are often derided as “geeks” or whatever the popular terminology is now. So what if one’s neighbour dresses in a star Trek costume, collects X-Men comics, watches Transformers, draws manga, or prefers hardbacks to hardball? How does that infringe on the lifestyle of those who don’t share these interests? Is the condemnation and ridicule of such individuals rooted in the ridiculer accepting society’s definition of what the ideal of maturity is….or is it rooted in jealousy of the subject of their mockery? I mean, let’s face it, people who like to talk shit about enthusiasts usually aren’t known for their passion, independence of mind or points of distinction from the herd.
It’s often said that “geeks” are “saddoes” who have “no life” – I say bullshit! Many enthusiasts, or “geeks” share ideas, form strong relationships, support their chosen passion through productive, creative and financial means and generally have a good time doing what they do and liking what they like. Contrast this with the typical ridiculer who usually counts people s/he doesn’t really like as “friends”, approaches leisure in the same mechanical way as they do their dead-end job, and views the total non-interaction of sitting in front of the telly to be superior to making oneself heard on the internet, or making the effort to seek out a good book.
Alas, it seems like too many apologize for their childlike ways in order to appease the childish ones assuming the mantle of “maturity”.
In reality, if anyone has a chance of evolving toward maturity (if they aren’t there already), it’s the “geeks” among us, who have retained the positive aspects of their early years. (Although saying this, I won’t deny that some of them fall into childish patterns too…)
So the question is: Which side of the fence do you stand on?
Can you put away the truly childish things…whilst retaining the childlike?
Do you wanna grab life by the balls and run with it…or would you rather extinguish all traces of it, in yourself and others, in order to feign a maturity you sorely lack?
Make a choice!
The rest of your life depends on it…