Sunday, August 23, 2015

Becoming adult

Basilica De La Sagrada Familia , Barcelona
The central focus of parenting seems to be preparing children for conventional success . Since young age, every nurturing act is aimed at ushering a child to a life of accomplishments that is believed to be the key to a good life. Many of us have fallen prey to the system where certain conceptions about measure of conventional successes have been in place.  As parents, we cannot leave our children to their own devices for we are afraid that they may go astray or become idle so we guide them zealously with what we know but they really must figure things out themselves. It is necessary that we must encourage them to trust their own judgments and  grow up as individuals in a less than ideal world.

Becoming adult is indeed a daunting task. As a parent, I tell my children they can do what they want  if they have the resolve and convictions to follow through what is on their wish list. Often in chasing what we feel will make us happy and fulfilled, we lose sight of engaging ourselves in moments that actually matter . Growing up does not mean renouncing your hopes and dreams, growing up means trying to make sense of the world, living with uncertainties and making the best of what you have and what you can do.

Growing up needs courage because it means being responsible for yourself, learning to trust your own judgment,  taking responsibility for your actions and omissions.We must make sensible choices that work for us by knowing our strengths and weaknesses but how do we know by thinking rationally and acting sensibly , we are not limiting ourselves? Growing up means finding a place in the world and not losing yourself  despite experiencing unfair treatments and acknowledging the presence of injustice around the world.  

In her book Why Grow Up, Susan Neiman writes @page 73
You have probably forgotten the details of your first unfairness, presumably because it happened very early, and was followed by many more. Still Barrie is probably right to say no one ever gets over it, and the reason Peter Pan remains an eternal child is that each succeeding unfairness is a surprise. None is ever internalized, so his trust in the world remains unscathed.

Not so for the rest of us; Peter Pan is a fairy tale. Even babies, as we’ll see, sense and suffer from a world that doesn’t fit. It’s the beginning of alienation , but also of indignation that, if properly guided, will be needed to make a life active. What guidance is proper? We want our children to see as little suffering as possible, and we know that even Buddha’s royal father couldn’t shield him. Most of us have considerably fewer resources than he did.  When my own son was eleven or twelve he came home from school complaining that a teacher had treated him unfairly, and hearing the details I thought he was right. Here’s what I told him : This won’t be the last time that someone in power treats you unfairly. They may be threatened or jealous or simply tired, they may prefer the kid or the employee who flatters or falls. Besides reading and writing and arithmetic, one of the things you need to learn in school is how to live with that – without losing yourself.  Was the balance right? After too many encounters with unfairness I could not share his outrage. We want our children to remain awake to injustice; we just don’t want them to be undone by it. I was rather pleased with my little speech; it was certainly better than anything I’d heard as a child, when my own parents’ refusal to acknowledge that a teacher might be anything less than benign left me not only alone with my indignation but deeply confused: weren’t they just saying  the is is the ought ? But the problem is one of proportion.’
Only butter butters (Restaurant  Story , London)
Growing up means having to interact and deal with people who are different from us. Growing up means knowing how to manage one’s expectations and emotions. Growing up means being tolerant of others and embracing all our differences and failings. Ideally, growing up leads to better judgments. Growing up is simply about thinking for ourselves. But it does not mean you have to give up  striving for what you think is the ideal world.

Susan Neiman also writes, 

‘Growing up is a process of sifting through your parents’ choices about everything: the music you couldn’t help hearing because it was playing on a stereo you couldn’t reach, the religion you couldn’t help believing because you were taken to sermons, or holidays in a car you couldn’t drive, the neighbourhood they set up home in, or move to when they changed jobs, and a host of general values you will not even recognize as values until you are old enough to get out in the world and encounter other ones. Sometimes when you’re sifting, with any luck at all, you’ll be able to say and thank your parents for it one way or another, if only by living in a way that proves them right. On the other hand, if you don’t reject any of their choices you are not grown-up-if only because their choices were made in a time that isn’t this one, and not all of them fit into the world you now inhabit.’

Why Grow Up does not tell you how but why it is necessary to grow up for coming of age itself is an ideal one should strive for. Susan Neiman shares her thoughts about aging and the need to build a new model of maturity in the 21st century from reading disparately and widely and  in her book , she discusses works by philosophers namely  Immanuel Kant, Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Simone de Beauvoir.

In conclusion, grownups are not boring and being grown-up is itself an ideal.
Monmouth Cafe, London

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