Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Peter pan, you're not a kid anymore.

There are some who are young yet they act old. There are others who are old yet they act young. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks.

I was always told that I acted older than my age; I had to -- there was no room to be a child when I was younger. To cope with my surroundings, I needed to mature to become years older than I was. To deal with the piles and stressed situations that entreated my patience every morning and evening in my home life, I wasn't able to bring friends into my home as a normal child would have; of course I did, and when or if my parents came home, my one friend at that time would often hide in my closet and then sneak out the back door sometimes an hour later. I often wondered if having a messy home was my parent's dirty little secret or my own. Either way, it became my dark little secret when I couldn't or wouldn't bring friends over. This pained me with embarrassment throughout most of my childhood. Even today I still have a nagging phobia of bringing friends over because I fear being embarrassed by those I live with. The thought of someone walking around in his dirty briefs, acting embarrassingly inappropriate, or the past thoughts of my to-be-friend being yelled at or witnessing what went on behind the closed doors of my childhood home stunted any desire I had to engage in a normal social life. I was therefore thrown forth in years significantly beyond my age. I remember so many times being terrified about what sort of outcast I would become in school if anyone found out what used to happen at home. From this and other things that went on in my home, I often confined myself to my room during my younger years and I did not "get out" like the rest of society's children were able to. In a way this is sad because I might not have developed the way one who had a healthy childhood would have. I try every day to forget my childhood years.

There are others who claim that they try to regain their childhood. Some take on crawling, some play with toys, some do who knows what. As far as I am concerned, these activities are too little, too late. Plus, to me they seem a bit sick; the idea of a fifty-year-old man crawling and sucking his thumb and crying "waa" seems a bit spooky.

On the other side of the twisted coin are those who never learned to grow up. Whatever dysfunction caused their Peter Pan syndrome, while being a child may have been acceptable during the younger part of their life, it is simply inappropriate when they are older. This type of person reminds me of a teenager who sits at home watching television and raiding the kitchen while he waits for his parents to come home and to catch him not doing his homework. He does nothing of value, and burns time as fast as lint. While this is a sad reality for too many real teens today, again, it is even more inappropriate as an adult.

What comes with this Peter Pan mentality? Other than the echoing thoughts through the hollow mind of "I won't grow up" comes a lack of responsibility for one's actions and one's life. To this person, nothing matters except for his desires and his temptations. He has a difficult time thinking beyond his immediate surroundings. While he may develop the maturity when he is older to try to surround and encompass another's needs while fulfilling his own, the merit of the gesture is akin to one who would spend thousands of dollars to attend a sports game with the intention of finding a way to write it off as a tax deduction -- before he even buys the tickets. This Peter Pan is almost medically blinded from thinking about anything greater than himself.

There is something appealing to others about his boyish charm, yet to me there is something disturbing seeing a grown man act like a fifteen-year-old. To me, growing old is a beautiful thing -- it is a natural part of life's design. Aging without growing can obviously be frustrating to the middle-aged person, and to everyone around him.

There is a time to take responsibility for one's life. There is a time to make a decision that things can no longer stay the way they are. The barrel does not need to go over the Niagara Falls with the moron inside; the boat does not need to float along with the current to end up in the lowest place. The builder put oars and a motor in the boat with the intention that they be used. Our Creator made wind so that the sails of a boat can move it against the current. No longer can this man treat his home as if it were his boyhood bedroom. It is simply wrong to not return something to its proper place after one is finished using it. It is simply wrong for one's clothing to take flight as one pulls the keys out of the keyhole of the door. It is simply inappropriate to walk around practically naked. Most of all, it is simply obscene to live one's life without growth. Peter pan, you're not a kid anymore.

10 comments:

Tyzilee said...

very eloquently put. I like your blog

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Zoe Strickman said...

Thank you, I mean it. Was your experience similar? Or, were you referring to the slip of the tongue when I let my anger write the blog? It's too bad the things that go on behind closed doors. If I could change society with a happy pill I would. Better yet, if I could figuratively open people's eyes so that they can see the results of their misguided beliefs, I would spend my life on street corners doing so. Isn't it nice to be anonymous? I would never say this in public.

I found out this morning that there are people who actually have the heart to do something about fixing the world instead of just complaining about it. I wish I had her resolve.

Victoria said...

Nobody has a perfect childhood. Everyone is screwed up in some way or another....if your way is by growing old, then why is it not acceptable for another's way to be playing with toys?
Also....what's wrong with walking around in your onw house in whatever clothes you want. If it's hot, why not walk around naked??? G-d made flesh, man created the clothes we cover it with.

Zoe Strickman said...

Victoria,
Wow, you actually read this stuff! I am really touched; the fact that you wrote me put a smile on my face. Re: walking naked; as much as the thought of walking around naked seems natural and attractive, the sad thought is that we're actually supposed to cover up and be modest. Again, I am warmed by the thought that you are reading the blog.

PS - You were referring to Adam and Even in the first weekly portion of the book of Genesis. They covered themselves up after eating from the tree of knowledge, where they learned the value of modesty.

The next week was the portion called Noach, where after the flood, two of his sons covered him up after he got drunk and was taken advantage of; they walked with a blanket to cover his nakedness with their backs towards him so that they wouldn't shame him by seeing his nakedness.

Also in many places, the ideal woman, often called a woman of valor or "aishes chayil" has the main trait of being modest. The hebrew word for the whole concept is Tznius. Men are supposed to be modest too. As much as it is natural to being naked and unashamed of one's body, there is a value in keeping the body sacred; after all, it will be from your naked body that your children will come.

Victoria said...

I still don't agree. Just because it is written somewhere what we are supposed to do, this doens't mean that we should blindly follow and not use our own judgement. I am a big believer in thinking and making my own decisions especially when it comes to what to do in my own house.

Zoe Strickman said...

That is the dilemma I face every day with religion -- How do you blindly follow something that was allegedly decreed by some Supreme Being over 3,000 years ago, especially when 1) you don't feel anything supernatural when you do follow, and 2) there is no tangible benefit, and 3) the commanded act is anti-logical. Why follow anything at all?

I console myself by realizing that I'm no genius and perhaps there is something greater than me -- smarter than me -- that knows better what is right and wrong than my own limited faculties of logic.

Keep in mind, I am driven by my own pleasure-seeking interests; when those clash with what might objectively be the proper way to behave and think, if I were deciding based on my own faculites, right and wrong would go out the window.

That's why people light up a cigarette knowing that one day it will cause them cancer.

if not now, when? said...

Just blindly follow???

Abraham J. Heschel said that religion, ritual, commandments etc. is the answer and the reason it is irrelevant to most people is that most people don't have the question. Not until we are burdened with the question does any answer have any relevence.

Jeopardy is backwards - first we need the question, then the answer!! (sorry Alex... and Ken)

What's the question... He says we can only get to that when we are awed by the universe and all the mysteries inherent in it.

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

"if not now, when?"...you make a very good point indeed.

Zoe Strickman said...

That sounds like a whole lotta new age hoo-haw to me. What does that mean, being awed by the universe?!? Do you think that smelling the roses and staring into the stars will do anything other than make you sneeze from the pollen?

I don't see the value in what you said because to me, it sounded like you said that religion is the answer to the question (pointing finger raised like in Willow) that one gets only by contemplating the mysteries of the universe.

My analogical feelings towards your answer are as if you just offered to put a band-aid on my bleeding wound that requires stitches.

What would you do if you saw the stars, got excited, sought G-d and religion, and you were given a set of answers that no matter how you looked at it seems to be correct and true. What do you do if that answer traps you into a world view and a lifestyle you don't particularly find congruent with your surroundings? What do you do if your life circumstances don't allow you to enjoy the pleasures allocated to you in this answer? What happens if you are tied into a system that fails to function not because it is false, but it fails to function effectively because of a lack of participation by the rest of the world?

Here is my answer to all three of you:
A corporation will ultimately collapse and a body will ultimately die if the heart, the arms, and the various parts of the body fail to go along with the brain.

Thinking back to what prompted your comment, perhaps the problem is that there are too many people using their own judgment in our world that causes the larger body not to function. The question I ask is -- is it better to be a cancer cell or a healthy cell when the other parts of the body have stopped functioning? There are those that band together to fight the disease and to pull the body back together. So far my actions are congruent with theirs. My desires tell me to be a cancer cell.

If not now, when? said...

"What would you do if you saw the stars, got excited, sought G-d and religion, and you were given a set of answers that no matter how you looked at it seems to be correct and true. What do you do if that answer traps you into a world view and a lifestyle you don't particularly find congruent with your surroundings?"

Just because you may not like the answer, doesn't free you from asking the question.

In today's world - at least in the US - more than ever, since "religion" is not mandated by the state you've got 3 choices - 1. believe it (religion) is irrelevant and therefore forget about it.
2. follow religious practices because others expect you to.
3. find a reason that religion is important to YOU (as an individual) and take ownership of your own religious life.

if you opt for number 3, you need what said in my last post.

You need the question - life is full of questions - As a lawyer you will find out that laws are the answer to a basic question - how do we govern inter-human societal relationships?
what are our rights? how about our responsibilities? etc.

Science too is an answer to a more fundamental question? all the Hows, Whats, and Whens of the existence. ie how does the world work? What is the cause and effect of splitting an atom? etc.

Religion is the answer to the most pervasive (hopefully) of questions.
WHY? Wherefore? for what purpose?

unless you are concerned with WHY is there existence? why is there order? why does the universe operate according to certain natural law?
unless you have these questions, you don't need religion,

Similarly if you're not concerned with HOW the human body works, and WHAT can I accomplish with that information, then medical science is unnecesary.
And if we're not concerned with How the Earth's crust is organized, what effect does that information have on earthquakes, tsunamis, tidal waves, etc. then geological sciences are unnecesary.

Unless we need to know why are we here? does G-D expect anything from us? then religion is unnecessary -

Call it new age hoo-haw if you like, but I dare you to give me a better explanation.