Saturday, August 14, 2004

My wandering muse

Lately, I've been preoccupied with age--not so much with my own age, but with the idea of age and of maturity.

It's been said often enough that I seem older than my twenty-three years. Why that is, I'm not sure. What I am sure of, though, is that I've always felt older. I've always related best to people who were older than me, too. What is maturity? Beyond any denotated meaning, I mean.

I think it's a sense more than it is a quality or behaviour. It is a way of knowing. Maturity is understanding propriety--and knowing when to transgress it. Maturity is understanding how your actions affect others and at least striving to "first do no harm". Maturity is understanding that when someone does do you harm, it may have much more to do with them and their own baggage than it does with you. Maturity is knowing that sometimes it's okay to be immature.

Like indulging in your childhood sense of responsibility to your stuffed animals and dolls.

I was the child upon whom the influence of The Velveteen Rabbit was apparent. I was the child who fancied (on occasion) that her toys came alive whenever she left the room or at night while she slept. Now I am the adult who can't bear to part with those same animals and dolls--notwithstanding her own age or their physical condition.

No, I no longer hope for the animation of my toys.

But I do hope to hold on to my childhood in whatever way I can. Not memories of objects, but memories through objects. Like T.S. Eliot's "objective correlative".

I have memories in landscapes, in scents, in sounds. But I have them in objects as well. Without those objects I will, of course, still remember. The objects are important only in that they facilitate, they trigger the remembering; they are important not in and of themselves, but because of what they signify.

Which leads me back to age.

The number itself is not important. And as far as maturity goes, is not emblematic of anything more than chronos. Human-made time--a paradigm imposed on life to try to make sense of its stages. Age does not signify maturity.

And I think it's time the two concepts--age and maturity--were divorced in our minds. The association of the two, I think, is far more limiting than productive.

Further meditations on age: Check out the Don Coscarelli film Bubba Ho-Tep. Really. You'll love it: Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. Campy fun that's strangely thought-provoking.

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