I am pushing forty. Scary thought that is. And all of a sudden, as one nears this major milestone, thoughts of whether or not one’s life is relevant and noteworthy and on track with the game plan you made when you were twenty, come looming into the forefront. And one would think, as they neared that milestone in life, that image/self-consciousness/the ways we are seen by other significants in our lives, might fade in importance and significance.
Nada. Not in my world. Maybe not in your’s, either.
I am turning right onto our ice-covered road. We (or some of us, I should say…) have just spent three hours at a freeze-your-butt-off, cold rink, and everyone is hungry, tired and done in. The road feels like a welcome mat. We’re almost there.
Youngest pipes up, totally out of the blue, “So-and-so farts at school and nobody even cares about it,”; and then from the backseat, the peanut gallery, comes the comment, “Stop talking about who farts at school, that’s not nice.” Or something to that effect. But Youngest carries on with her train of thought, seemingly unfazed by her sister’s critique of her choice of subject matter.
“No,” she says, “Nobody even cares. She justs farts, and everybody just keeps doing stuff and they don’t even notice.” She speaks of this all as if it is both completely amazing yet totally in the realm of the possible, all in one giant breath.
I do what mother’s do when they’re driving. I say this:
We carry on, arrive home, and the conversation is sucked up into the vortex of all that other stuff that makes our evening both crazy and bearable.
But I am left thinking, as I sit here tonight. What if it was always this way in our adult public personas? What if farts and burps and falls and sneezes and scruffy hair and shabby clothes and ‘what I did/didn’t do last Friday’ and all those clever things I only remember to say after the fact…really didn’t matter in the larger scheme of life?
What if people really didn’t notice when we messed up/failed/made mistakes/acted in embarrassing ways/lived less-than-perfect lives? What if people just “carried on anyway, acting as if this was normal” when we failed to live up to the expected standard? When we failed to live up to everyone else’s expectations of what is normal?
What if being quiet and shy and introverted was just as cool as being loud and funny and extroverted? What if being “religious” was considered praiseworthy? What if being studious, ‘wall-flowerish’ and intellectual was actually trendy? What if being a go-getter was admirable, and not threatening? What if cutting edge, ‘outside-the-box’ ways of thinking and doing were not intimidating to those who’ve always done things a certain way? What if mature, experienced mindsets were highly esteemed by those who haven’t lived as long, who haven’t seen and heard and known as much?
What if we just let people be people, farts, warts, silly little labels and all? And we just accepted them for the wonderful person God made them to be and then carried on with our own busy, all-important life, still interacting with all people as if they were just as important as everyone else? No less important and no more important. Making it real, and comfortable and honest, without putting on a show?
I think I’d like that world. If I ever were to get a glimpse of it.