Grown vs.Growin’

“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” -Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A friend of mine was remarking-moreso lamenting-that a friend of theirs was stagnant. Wasn’t bringing anything new to the table when it came to conversations or thoughts, wasn’t showing interest in new activities or hobbies, in short…not growing at all and not expanding in any new directions. That person had fixed themself at a point and, while it was comfortable for them, this was proving uncomfortable for the other friend. Boredom, repetitive conversations and the mundane was afoot. Not to mention, frustrations. One friend was bored by the other friend.

You can see how it can happen, too. Work takes time, families take time, bills and obligations take time…who the heck has time for whims or mere hobbies as adults (or even reading a newspaper)? We give our kids the spotlight so that they can foster those interests, right?

Yes. But yes to adults exploring, too. Even though adults are considered “grown-ups”, we really shouldn’t stop “growin'”. And for that reason, I think we should be called Growin’ Ups. Say it fast- it sounds the same but the meaning is infinitely different. Grown is past tense…you have grown. You’re done. Sure, maybe you aren’t tacking on any inches (at least vertically), but the thing inside that thing on top of your shoulders…well, it’s not just sitting there taking up space just because it’s not physically getting any larger. Just like your dog or your hamster or your kids, it needs to stretch and go out and play. And yes, sometimes you have to push it out the door to do so. I don’t care if it’s cold! Go out and play!

But Growin’ Ups…that denotes movement. Why are we usually so amused when we hear of a 85-year-old who is still working or volunteering? Amazement certainly plays a big part in that reaction, but really, we have to applaud them. Maybe some luck was on their side in the genes category, but maybe they also have played an active (there’s that word again) part in remaining active and that, in turn, has led to their longevity. Just like a muscle that atrophies if not used, our brain seem to have the same horrible capability if left unchallenged and unused. No growth. No new electrical connections. Decay. Boredom and stagnation. Yikes.

I recently spoke with my parents on the phone and in the course of our conversation, they rattled off about five new things that they were trying in the coming weeks and months. The biggest of which being a trip to Ireland and the most unusual was starting Tai Chi classes. Mind you, my parents are 70 and 76. And ok, they are retired and have time to devote to these pursuits. BUT, they don’t have to…they are CHOOSING to. That’s the difference. As they told me about the lectures they were attending and even other classes they were going to be taking, my Mom actually ended by saying “I’m just enjoying myself so much now. I really am.” How cool is that to hear? And consequently, we have a lot of interesting new things to chat about on the phone these days. Funny how that happens.

So we must keep growin’ even though, in many ways, we have already grown. Take the class, wander down an aisle in the bookstore that you never go down (that would be the science or religion aisles in my case), just try a different ice cream flavor for pete’s sake. Cook something new. Find some unusual music on iTunes that is out of your box (flamenco, anyone?). Try a new form of exercise.

All good, all  crucial. This quote is a good one to end these thoughts with….

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”-Thomas Carlyle

Go get ’em, tiger and have a great weekend doing something, ANYTHING, new! You’ll be all the better for it. We all will.

(pssst….lots of good Easter recipes coming next week!)

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