Maybe Peter Pan had it right

The problem with growing up is you have to decide things. There are small, annoying things like whether to eat a healthy dinner or stick with potato chips and ice cream. Worse, there are important decisions, like how to engineer a more or less steady income. If you’re like me, the latter happens more by default than conscious planning.

So when confronted with the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question, I’m inclined to shrug. Who says I want to grow up?

ballet20shoesWhen I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. I studied dance until I was in university, when it became abundantly clear that I’d missed some sort of highway exit to the Royal Academy, probably when I was around eight. I was tartly informed that the teen years were too late to get serious. So I got a literature degree instead, with honours. I refused to be washed up before the age of twenty, no matter what some dance mistress said.

Meanwhile, I shifted my dreams from one art form to another, trying out fabric painting, bookbinding, costuming and music. Finally, I settled on writing and started zooming along on this oddball carnival ride. The point isn’t that I become rich and famous. The point is that I can move forward. Artistic achievement is a process, not a stopping point. There are many roads and there is always some new pinnacle on the horizon, just out of reach. Without that misty destination in front of me, I would grind to a halt.

So, no, I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to face facts, set goals, or turn my dreams into concrete plans. I can do that with the mundane part of my brain that works nine to five and reads the grocery fliers for the best bargain. It won’t invade the important part of my world, where I look out the window at the clouds and think, “What could I possibly do if I just turned my mind to it?” Because most things are possible. Just ask a child. It’s the adults that like to tell us where we fall short.

I don’t want to grow up. What I want to be will always remain an open opportunity.

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