And Now For Something Completely Different.
Tomorrow I will be travelling to the Cheltenham Racecourse for the Greenbelt Festival. A place that has become like an oasis on the journey over the years. A place where faith, justice and the arts collide and create something so unlike anything else you could ever experience. The time of the year where I rediscover my tent and become that little boy again in a field of dreams under the stars. This year I will be singing along to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, listening to Barbara Brown Taylor and laughing along with Milton Jones. Plus I will be taking part in a storytellers session for the first time. I am one of nine people doing a ten minute spot on the theme of ‘Growing Up’. So this week for something completely different I thought I would share with you one of my rejected attempts. We had to base it on a true story, and this is based on a part of the adventure in me. Hope you enjoy…
Why don’t you grow up? An old wives tail.
I have a problem that I cannot seem to solve. It is one that seems to raise a question every now and again during my now 23 years of marriage. It happened just before I read about the storytelling nights here in Greenbelt and that is what caused my train of thought. What is my problem? What is the question that keeps re-occurring over all these years? I am a man in a 40 year old body (okay 40+ a few years) who still thinks and acts like a tweenager. My mind still thinks I have the whole world before me, that I still have every possibility available to me, while my actions can sometimes take the form of someone who has never learnt anything from the journey of life, someone who wants to take no responsibility for his actions and words at all. The question that this raises with my ever maturing wife? Why don’t you grow up?
Good question. Why don’t I grow up? Why don’t I discover that inner maturity? Why don’t I man up a bit? Why don’t I stop acting like a child, a spoiled brat of a child at that? This recent occurrence was because I went into a bit of a sulk. My mood swing was well swung. My rag was well rung. I took a deep sigh into my lung. I said silly words with my tongue? All because I wanted to shirk being responsible. All because I wanted the return of the days of no responsibility, no house, no bills, no work, just messing about, just pocket money treats, just flirting in the school playground. A life living under a roof of somebody else’s mortgage and phone calls to repair men. But in a partnership of 23 years and four kids later this sort of thinking seems to be ill advised. I should be thinking like a 40 + man of responsibility. Is it time that I grew up? I can give you the number of someone who may say yes to that. But growing up seems to come with a price. It does not seem so full of fun. It is living with ruts, predictability, house chores, being dad’s taxi company, paying bills, earning money to spend money. If this is what growing up is all about then you can shove it. There must be a way to live the child like life without being childish.
Child like living loves play before work. This child like man loves playing football. Mt tweenage mind says I can still do it, my 40+ body tells me otherwise. The wife of 23 years says to me, why don’t you grow up? Two years ago I came out of my long mature retirement to play in goals for a local team. I was like the cat. You know the type that sits in front of the fire after being filled with the best of the cream. My team were not the best and we shipped about 9 goals a game, but I would dive around like a young one. My body battered and bruised every week, including visits to A&E, but the mind of Robert Green came over me. If growing up means not playing football even with my middle age spread then who wants to grow up. But the voice kept ringing, why don’t you grow up?
Child like living loves immature banter. This child like man loves the innuendo of the work place. Why talk about theology and God and eternity when you can have a crack or throw in a Kenneth Williams type joke at someone’s expense? I love the banter of my night shift. I love it when the guys get together and talk utter crap. Football, girls, crap- that’s about all. Then you come home and the missus wants a serious conversation about the damp coming through the walls, the car losing power, the kids struggling at school, she is not feeling herself today please listen. What is that all about? Has she not got a friend or a mother to get all grown up and serious with? I’ve had a hard day at work can I just listen and not talk? Do I have to contribute something positive to this subject. I have other gifts and things to think about. I want to read the paper and hold the telly controls. Then the voice gets ringing, why don’t you grow up?
Child like living grabs on to wonder. To see the beauty in the valleys where we live and notice a creative thumbprint beyond our world is something I love to share with my girl. As we gaze together out of the window and smile at the rainbow of promise as the sun beams through the rain drops, a smile enters our hearts and an embrace gathers us in. Laughing at the day and saying those familiar phrases that always brings a smile, taking the Michael out of each others mistakes and telling stories of treasured times. Laying the worries down until the morrow, grabbing onto one another, sitting in a coffee shop with a cream topped coffee and a huge slab of cake. Moments shared as we walk in the sunset and the cool of the night. Singing out loud to Snow Patrol, crying together at another trashy rom com, watching our boys on the footie field and shouting out with the crowds. The voice then disappears. Maybe growing up is not so bad after all, as long as the child like days are longer than grown up days. As long as wonder and laughter is never lost. As long as we keep growing in body together, if not in mind. Why don’t I grow up? Because of moments like these.