actually, most adults i know are neither children nor adults (myself DEFINITELY included). but that's beside the point.
adolescents are in a state of perpetual 'in-between-ness'. all dressed up, with somewhere to go, but no map to guide them there. on their way to God only knows where, and not close to arriving. yet.
they're an amalgamation of the wonder of an infant, the wisdom of an interlocutor, the wildness of a banshee, the wiliness of a banker, and the whimsy of a wanderer. a transmogrification of newly located hair and hormones everywhere.
they're a conflagration of all the stages of development, human and otherwise, crammed into a fixed yet flexible, limited yet limitless, bungled and beautiful bundle of bones, a flawed and fabulous fusion of flesh, a sordid, supple, sensational and spectacular synthesis of spirit.
in other words, they're a mystery that is better left unsolved, and best to simply be embraced in love.
because, as children, they need it.
and because their parents need it, too.
my son, Ian, has been traveling that agonizing and amazing journey through adolescence for the past several years now. and true to his nature, he has traveled that journey in his own unique, inimitable way.
case in point: one day, our family stopped in at Blockbuster to rent some movies. being a creature of extreme habit and rhythm, Ian did what he always did upon entering the store. he made a beeline to the 'family' section to look through the videos and choose one. the rest of us dawdled along the rows of 'new releases' to see if there was anything worth investing two hours of our time and four dollars of our resources to watch.
after a few minutes, i peered back over at the 'family' section and noticed that Ian was no longer there. and the search began.
up and down the different sections i frantically looked for him, to no avail. so i headed up towards the checkout counter at the front of the store, and stopped at the racks filled with snacks and magazines. and there he was.
he held an item in each hand with the intention of getting both.
in his right hand, he had the latest edition of 'Shape' magazine, with a beautiful blonde in a skimpy bikini gracing the cover.
in his left hand, he had the video he wanted to rent. 'Barney's Bus Adventure'.
i asked him, 'Ian, which one of those do you want to get? the video? or the magazine?'
adolescence in a nutshell.
or is it just LIFE in a nutshell?
i mean, just thinking back on that day, with Adolescent Jim holding those two seemingly incompatible objects and wanting both with equal intensity, i can't help but laugh at the dichotomy and irony of it.
but then i recognize how often in life - as a child, as a teenager, as an adult - i've found myself longing for seemingly contradictory desires to be realized in my life...
wanting everyone to have a voice...and wanting MY voice to be just a little bit louder that the rest.
presenting myself as someone who affirms each person's opinions as having just as much value as my own...and believing down deep that my opinion is better and more valuable than anyone else's.
talking about being content with what you've been given...and secretly drowning in dissatisfaction with what i have.
and all the while, living essentially as two people - one a public persona, and the other the private reality.
the great divide disguised in a supposedly 'integrated' person.
all dressed up...in the 'emperor's new clothes'.
and then i look at Ian, holding those two objects that reflect two supposedly contradictory desires with no shame whatsoever, as if they were somehow meant to go together.
and i recognize that my son, who's abilities of reason and understanding are limited by autism, actually has the intuitive wisdom to see the mysterious, duplicitous reality of who we are as broken and blessed human beings, and the innate courage to embrace and embody it without guile or guilt, but with great gusto and grace.
and i realize that my mystifying and magnificent 'Man-Cub' is actually much more of an embodiment of 'integration' than most of us supposedly more 'gifted' people.
myself DEFINITELY included.
(my dear, 18 year-old 'Man-Cub', embracing a new 'friend'...
and embodying his true mystifying, magnificent self :)