GNL number 85

a report of doings at meeting #85, Sunday, July 13, 2014
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!
—from the musical Peter Pan, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh

Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and think that it’s maturity. What that is, is aging.
—Maya Angelou

It’s easy to grow old, if you haven’t grown up.
—John Hively, author, The Rigged Game

When you’re finally a grown-up, one of the things you find is that there are no grown-ups.
—Charles Finch, The Last Enchantments


THEME

Ann opened this conversation on GROWING UP by reading a progression of answers to the question Is Growing Up Aging? which not only made sense but rolled like music and sounded to us like a poem. And she gave us the rest of the I Won’t Grow Up song, and recalled three moments from her childhood of feeling grownup, like when her Dad trusted her at 17 to take over at the wheel if needed. She concluded with her traditional 6-wordies, but with a twist—bending the rule when needed to 7ish. Our personal favorite: This old age “new normal” ain’t pretty. See AFTERWORDS for all.

Anna said though she’d done some things in her adult life that required discipline like modern dance, and things like cross-country solo trips that required some bravery, she thought she hadn’t grown up till she was in her 60’s and started attending Al-anon meetings; she felt opened up by the experience, and helped to better know herself. We thought, grown-up or not, we were glad she had retained her sense of humor to this day.

Louise found her introspection on growing up stayed with childhood, when she sought privacy and freedom from the chaos of her large family, in the basement for creative doll-play, and lots of reading and other investigations. And when she was very serious about religion and had an altar to the Virgin Mary. But also looking back, she saw her childhood as formative of her valuing community and helping others. She recalled enjoying working with kids, and her history as a teen of assisting with a relative’s child raising and other baby-sitting. No surprise then, L grew up to teach young people in school and later on her own farm.

Vijaya was our hostess in her back garden, where the perennials and bushes were absolutely lush with bloom. She spoke of having become who she is, which also means she doesn’t have to apologize for that, but can be herself and feel allowed to retain some freedom to laugh and enjoy life as a child does. (She recalled her husband used to ask when was she going to grow up, but she said now she’s immune to that.) Vijaya also invited us to meet there in the garden again anytime there’s good weather. We’ll take her up on it.

Sue brought several insightful quotes on growing up, for which see AFTERWORDS. And she also described a fascinating edition of NPR’s Radio Lab show, on Change—e.g.., the story of a study of Russian foxes raised for fur and how domesticated they became, and paleontology and other studies that seem to show humans have domesticated themselves from a wild animal state too. And the implication that it may be possible for humans to mature then, to where we stop destroying and start helping life on earth. (Check radiolab.org)

Indira, visiting her sister Vijaya, remarked on the difference between traditional Indian culture and current, in terms of courteous discourse and remaining open and respectful to the other. She told a story of hurt feelings and misunderstanding in an experience with an old friend, with whom she hung on through a close-down to an understanding, a story that illustrated our need to try to stay open to each other in this life, something we could call maturity.

Nancy read 3 quotes that reflected her thoughts. The first, from Keith Richards, recalled her brief experience with Catholicism at about 10, and the lifelong love of library that was more helpful. The second, from Daniel Prokop, mirrored her deep concern that our adolescent society is so addicted to getting stuff, we can’t see what captives we are of not the American dream, but the American capitalist nightmare. The third, from Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, recalled N’s sense that we often can start to grow up when bad things happen, and we’re forced into the corner of nowhere to go but looking deeply inside, at what’s there and what matters most. (See AW)

We chose to direct our offering this month to the Jack and Louise Daniels Peace Award Fund, administered by the Cobleskill-Richmondville School District.


BENEDICTION

Don’t try to make children grow up to be like you, or they may do it.
—Russell Baker

Growing up is difficult. Strangely, even when we have stopped growing physically, we seem to keep one growing emotionally, which involves both expansion and shrinkage, as some parts of us develop and others must be allowed to disappear…. Rigidity never works; we end up being the wrong size for our world.
—Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?


NEXT TIME

Sunday, August 10, 2014 (1030), at Louise Maher-Johnson’s Falling Water Farm (that was our friend Adair’s place). The topic is SURVIVING.


AFTERWORDS

from Ann:

Is growing up, aging? I’ve sometimes thought of aging as having a peak, like peak oil. After the peak is reached the trajectory peters out, trails off, falls off the edge, declines, recedes, de-matures, shrinks, wrinkles, forgets -OR- forgives, sporadically re-matures, periodically finds an even keel, changes viewpoint, changes scale, changes again and again. So there is no one peak, I guess growing up is a sliding scale, or a teeter totter, or a swing.

From Peter Pan:

I won’t grow up,

—-I won’t grow up

I don’t want to go to school.

—-I don’t want to go to school

Just to learn to be a parrot,

—-Just to learn to be a parrot

And recite a silly rule.

—-And recite a silly rule

If growing up means

It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me!

Not I,….

Feeling mature:

* Dad fell asleep while I was driving on the Meritt Parkway just days after I got my drivers license.

* The look of astonishment on my mother’s face when I made a very cogent, reasoned, and mature argument for travelling with a friend and her parents to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming one summer when I was 13.

* Matured/grew up quickly, at age 14, as I dealt with my father’s drinking problem when the rest of the family was gone.

Six+ Wordies

* Growing older isn’t always growing up.

* Nodding in her wheelchair, rest old friend.

* This old age “new normal” ain’t pretty.

* Six words aren’t enough any more.

from Sue:

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”~~~C.S. Lewis

“I don’t think I’d have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I’d known the whole thing was going to be ad-libbed.”~~~Bill Watterson

“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”~~~Ethan Hawke, The Hottest State

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.”~~~Pablo Picasso

“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise”~~~Alden Nowlan

from Nancy:

When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equalizer.~~~Keith Richards

We live in an adolescent society, Neverland, where never growing up seems more the norm than the exception. Little boys wearing expensive suits and adult bodies should not be allowed to run big corporations. They shouldn’t be allowed to run governments, armies, religions, small businesses and charities either, and just quietly, .they make pretty shabby husbands and fathers too. Mankind has become Pankind, and whilst “lost boys” abound, there is also an alarming increase in the number of “lost girls”.~~~Daniel Prokop, Leaving Neverland

And a note, with the excerpt I read from When Things Fall Apart, by Buddhist nun and teacher, Pema Chodron

Pema’s chapter on Growing Up is based on Tibetan Buddhist teaching. She and many other spiritual teachers seem to be asking us to wake up and break out of this culture’s set of conventions, and look back into ourselves, look fully and honestly via meditation, e.g.., and discover our patterns and our selves; and if we can do that honestly and somehow, kindly as well without getting down on ourselves, then, as she says, “It isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe….. We discover that everything is equally precious and whole and good…..We begin to find, to the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. Then this experience of opening to the world begins to benefit ourselves and others simultaneously……That’s the beginning of growing up. As long as we don’t want to be honest and kind with ourselves, then we are always going to be infants.”

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