Do you remember being eleven? Fifth or sixth grade. Standing in a line at PE? Kick ball or dodge ball. Waiting to be picked by a team captain, a fellow eleven year old who had been elevated to Captain by your physical education teacher? And with an abnormal swiftness, a hierarchy assembled. Them and you. You wait to be picked. You’re not the FIRST kid picked. That’s the popular kid, the best athlete, the jokester. You just hope to be in the MIDDLE. Anywhere but the last three kids to be sorted. You can hear the team captains, in their heads, parsing who to pick. Even if you got pick in the top third, you feel *bad* for those last three kids. You don’t want them excluded or shunned but they are not ADDITIVE to the team. Everyone else might have to carry them so they don’t look bad, flail or flounder. Its fair to include them but they might cost the team. Because, when you are eleven, its about winning. Beating THEM.
When you are fifty-six (holy moly, how did I end up here!), you can still have those moments when you kick your toes into the dirt and feign indifference while you hope and pray and dream dreams that you are going to get picked to play with the big kids. And what a truly phenomenal event, at fifty six, to re-experience that sensation of being YOUNG and naïve; of being picked, of finding the unexpected folded note slipped into your locker from that boy you have a crush on, of receiving an anonymous carnation on Valentine’s day, of being invited to that popular girl’s pool party (and it being genuine and not trickery)? As adults, we rarely – oh so rarely – get to re-experience the thrill and rush of youth. Call it wisdom or cynicism, but too often we shrug off hope and those almost juvenile wishes. We abandon the silliness of crossed fingers and rabbit’s feet, the tossed pennies in a fountain making wishes, the apple peeled in one fell swoop that is supposed to fall in the shape of the initials of our future betrothed. We surrender our belief in magic – our own innate magic as children brimming with hope and wonder – for adulthood, shackled with reason and obligations and purpose.
We should resist. Adulthood is not just an AGE, it is a mind set. Be silly. Have hope. Believe in the unexpected. Rejoice in being PICKED for the team. And play your fricking heart out. Go home exhausted and dirty and maybe even bruised. And trust that the day was just as it seemed. REAL. HONEST. SIMPLE.