Sunday, January 8, 2017

Act. Your.Adjective.

For most of your life, including well into the present day, you've been told to act your age. When you first heard this request, you were young enough for the advice to cancel itself out; you were acting your age. Even then, you understood that friends and adults in some position or other over your education wished for you to act older than your age.

They meant for you to bring your behavior skills into a closer range to your intellectual and perceptual skills. They wanted you to act older than your age. What they truly wished was for you to become serious.

When you put on a few years, the suggestion for you to act your age began to change into the question, When are you going to get serious?  You never intended to emulate Peter Pan. You looked forward to growing up. You liked the concept of maturation. You wished to be the verb mature and its adjective. But you wished to do so on your own terms, which had nothing to do with seriousness.

You wished to engage mature as verb and adjective with a low ratio of seriousness, little more than twenty percent against an eighty percent of mischief, humor, and the ability to see the wry anomalies and ironies in full bloom everywhere you looked.  

Your hopes for this ratio of seriousness to mischief were dashed when you became distracted by the tools you'd thought to use to make your way in the world. Those tools were words. If you'd gone on about your business with the thought of words as tools, you'd doubtless saved yourself time. You used words to disguise your lack of seriousness, thinking that longer sentences, a taste for recondite vocabulary, and a dash of arcane factoids would convince everyone about you that you were serious.

But you were not serious at all, you were that one quality every writer dreads. You were boring.

Even now, when you still have issues about acting your age, the antennae of awareness you've developed over the years pick up hints that you have stepped over the threshold to the point where you project attitudes, words, and thoughts that bore.

By now, you've developed skills, not so remarkable as a hound who can nose out truffles, but still abilities that allow you to sniff out the words that cloud the issue of what you wish to say and how you say it. In the process, you're learning how seriousness can be a useful pose for slipping a subversive tract into an unsuspecting mailbox.

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