Posted by: tomkennedy | November 2, 2008

All We Are Is Everything That’s Right (cont.)

Part Two of a two-part article….

 

You can find the first part of this article here.

 

Last time I wrote about the absurdity of the traditional job interview.  I wrote about how it’s unfair to take someone completely out of their element and then ask them to “act normal” and “be comfortable”.  I related this hypocrisy to the disconnect between who we let the world see and who we actually are.  I then charged you, my dear readers, with taking a final look at yourself before your next big interview and asking, “Is this really me?”  I hope that I afforded you a new way of looking at yourself, the work world, and maybe the world in general.

 

The reason I wrote this two-part article was because of an interview I had once that had been made exceedingly uncomfortable for a reason I can’t readily identify.  It got me thinking about the progression of one’s personality with age and the gradual cloaking of desire.  What do I mean by that?  This topic was already touched upon in the conclusion of another article but I’d like to expand on it. 

 

Why do we lose our innocence?  Why is it that at a certain age we feel it no longer acceptable to do the first thing that comes to our mind; what feels good to us at that moment?  I’ll share a story to illustrate my point.  I was walking through the mall with my girlfriend the other day when out of nowhere a little girl – whose parents were sitting on a bench nearby – jumped in front of us, did a two second dance similar to Matt, and then at the top of her lungs screamed, “YEAAAAA!”.  Now while this was humorous at first, it slowly dawned on me the beauty of the situation.  Here was a girl – unaffected by the fact she was surrounded by hundreds of strangers – dancing.  Why was she dancing?  Because she fucking wanted to.  At that exact moment in time she felt the urge to bust a groove and celebrate her individuality.  Bravo.

 

There is a problem with that story that I’m sure some will note.  Children of that age have no responsibilities and are expected to act silly.  While this may be true, the spirit of the story is still appropriate.

 

As I wrote about in this article, I recently went on a European conquest that was unforgettable.  One of the stories I always tell occurred in Nice, France.  I don’t want to say that I’m not a fan of French people, but I was routinely subject to uncalled-for rudeness by the majority of French citizens.  I don’t deny that there’s bad blood between Americans and the French, but that’s not the point of the story.  While walking back from the beach, I passed a street performer playing “My Way”, of Frank Sinatra fame, on his violin.  Now I realize that the original score is French, but let’s not kid ourselves – this is Frank’s song.  Besides being a Frenchman playing a song famous for an American performance, he was wearing a shirt that said ‘Just Keep Playing’.  I thought that this scene was also amazing.  Here is someone crossing political, cultural, and even musical boundaries in front of hundreds of strangers.  The huge balls it takes to not only perform in a public venue, but perform something controversial are admittedly bigger than mine.  Furthermore, I think his shirt sums up my point perfectly:  Just keep playing.

 

It’s entirely plausible that this man has another job.  It’s also possible that he does not.  The important part is that he’s doing what he loves.  He may run a grocery store during the week or panhandle for 10 hours a day, but the fact remains that he still takes time out to do what pleases him the most.  Moreover he’s doing what he loves despite the fact that it may be deemed socially unacceptable.  He hasn’t lost that innocent spark that so many of us do when we grow up.  Something in us changes.  Or, maybe more accurately, something around us changes that causes us to lock our greatest desires behind a wall of maturity. 

 

Remember the wonder of the world when you were a child?  Remember how big your school lunchroom was when you were in 3rd grade?  I dare you to go back to your elementary school today and see how big it feels.  A lot of people won’t want to for fear of losing the perception that their lunchroom was the biggest place on planet Earth. 

 

There’s so much we take for granted when we get older I’m surprised that anyone over the age of 35 is able to get excited about anything.  We become so cynical and jaded once the weight of the world has crushed us that even our imaginations fail to illuminate our minds.  As children a pen was anything BUT a pen.  It was a missile, a sword, a laser gun, a magic wand, and a baton to lead a symphony all in the same day.  Today, we’re lucky if we get to use a pen as a drumstick on our desk.  My mother recently told me a story of how she spent a decent amount of money on a toy castle for Christmas when I was younger.  She said upon opening the gift I put the castle to the side and played with the box for the rest of the day.  A castle is a castle, but a box could be a castle, spaceship, car, house and suit of armor all at once.  Calvin and Hobbes, the best comic strip ever as far as I’m concerned, has Calvin using a regular box as his time machine AND Transmogrifier.  It’s amazing what they do with corrugated cardboard these days.

 

Look, I understand that in every life there comes a point where one must “grow up”.  Where the pressures and responsibilities of the world call for us to put down our magical pens and put on our serious faces in order to provide for our survival.  What I do not understand is why those two spheres cannot coexist.  The sad reality is that when we get to a certain age we are guided into the mature world of adulthood where the innocence that once fueled our greatest adventures is extinguished.  Maturity should be a facet of our personality, not the replacement. 

 

So what do we do?  How do we release the “child within” as it were?  How do we, as adults, return to that period of blissful ignorance when “free time” was spent running around outside and not doing more work?  I believe I may have inadvertently discovered the answer. 

 

Just keep playing.

 

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Responses

  1. I actually worked at an elementary school for a short time this September…
    …the same elementary school I attended.
    Not even kidding- it was the most frightening thing going into the cafeteria. I asked people about twelve times if it was the same cafe i used to eat in or if there had been renovations done. Sigh.


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