January 27, 2011

Growing Up

Yesterday, I turned 40.  For the past several weeks, in anticipation of this event, I wondered if, perhaps, it is time for me to start feeling and acting like an adult; because even though my beard is starting to turn grey, I still feel like a child.

Twice in the past year, I've been told by teenagers that I "don't act that old."  I don't know why they said that.  Maybe they've seen me riding my bike to church with my daypack on my back.  Maybe they watched me climb the boulders at Joshua Tree while the other adults sat ontheir chairs at the campsite.  Maybe they saw me get excited over something, like a rainbow caused by moonlight, and even though they thought it kind of strange for someone to get excited over something like that, they thought it was kind of cool, too.

I don't know.  What I do know is that I often hear a voice telling me to act more grown-up.  After all, the voice says, 40 year-old pastors don't ride their bikes around town.  It's not dignified.  Yet, strangely, the older I get, the more I want to ride my bike - and do lots of other fun things that adults are not supposed to do.  I recently re-discovered that making friendship bracelets (something I learned to do while counseling youth camps) is an enjoyable hobby.  As an added bonus, it provides a more enjoyable way to pass time in a doctor's waiting room than reading 3 year-old magazines.

To be quite honest, grown-ups have always intimidated me ... until I remember that inside every adults, no matter how old and crusty they are on the outside, there is a child needing attention; a child that wants to play, a child that is far more insecure than the grown-up persona will admit to.  Nearly everyone, I think, is still waiting to feel more grown-up.  Most become impatient with waiting, and so they deny that their inner child even exists, until even they themselves are unaware that it's there.

Strangely enough, I did not get to ride my bike yesterday.  Not acting old doesn't mean not acting responsibly, and I had parental obligations that required use of the car (even if I did pout just a little before accepting this fact).  No matter, though.  The child in me is still there, and I don't expect he'll be going anywhere soon.


O said...

Hey I've just turned 51 and I haven't grown up yet. There are things you need to grow up for and things you probably shouldn't. (I am thinking of William Blake's ideas on innocence and experience)
Then there are some interesting ideas in Transactional Analysis that I like. I reckon it is good to have the ability to act childlike when there is time to really play. Keep it up!

Elmer Ewing said...

And at 79 I still pout on days when I don't get to ride my bike. Anybody biking at 95? I hope so.

Danny Bradfield said...

O & Elmer, thanks for your comments. Elmer, you both might be interested in my friend Keith Watkins' blog, "Keith Watkins Historian." He's a retired seminary professor - the last class he taught was the first one I took as a student - and his blog alternates between posts on church history and posts on cycling. There's a link on the main page of my blog.

Dennis Sanders said...

Hmmm, I've been feeling the same way ever since I turned 40 back in 2009. I think there is something in our culture that tells us we have to be all grown up at 40 and leave the child behind. But maybe there is some value in honoring the child still inside of us.