What is a grown-up?

There is a view that 49 going on 50 is too old to be listening to the likes of this:

Or this:

Alternately, I could claim that I’m just paying attention.

I’m struggling with my life at the moment. I have a responsible, well-paid job by my standards. We have a nice flat (though we could do with a bigger one). We have two lovely children, even if they do occasionally behave like monsters).

It’s not enough – or it’s too much – and I’ve still got no idea what I’m going to do about it.

Douglas Adams was my age when he unexpectedly collapsed on that treadmill (surely a symbol in direct opposition to everything he stood for). Joe Strummer had just turned 50  when a  heart condition that could have taken him at pretty much any point in his previous life finally called time. I’m clearly at a dangerous age for a man, an age men die or make stupid choices or both.

My whole dilemma, of course, is a product of too much privilege and education. If I lived in Victorian times, I’d be a clerk or a factory manager or a middling government civil servant in an unimportant department and none of this would be an issue. Would it?

Perhaps I should get religion. Or go to the pub. Or enter a Buddhist monastery. The Japanese nobility of Heian times regarded that as a perfectly valid retirement option once one’s children were grown up and settled. What their wives thought isn’t recorded. Perhaps they were obliged to become Buddhist nuns. Supermum wouldn’t be having any of that.

The question is, what does a grown do? I mean, honestly, what would Strummer do? What would Douglas Adams say? And is it perhaps a not unpromising thing (to, at the very last minute, take a glass-half-full perspective) that I still really have no idea what I want to do with my life? Or perhaps I know – let’s admit that – but getting there. Well’s that’s the tricky bit.

Comments closed because this is a bit silly.

Note: OK, comments opened due to demand. Though the people who demanded it are probably going to be the only people who actually do comment and they left their POV on another post entirely. 

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About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

10 responses to “What is a grown-up?

  • Gappy

    Keep writing. Keep at it. Does anybody ever really feel like a grown-up who knows exactly where they’re going? It’s rare, I’d say.

  • Caroline Bock (@cabockwrites)

    Agree keep writing!!

    Here’s my story…

    I was raised by a single parent – a father, which I think makes me write men differently than most other writers. One recent result of being raised my father is this: I’ve written a young adult novel with strong male points of view.

    Inspired by real events, LIE — (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) — has two main characters – seventeen-year-old Skylar and Sean. LIE is about the aftermath of a brutal hate crime, about a group of white teen attacking Hispanics for “fun” and everything going terribly wrong. Moreover, it’s the struggle of Skylar and Sean to break from their friends, their community and tell the truth — or lie.

    Writing both a male and female main characters was a challenge — and had me thinking a lot about what makes teens different. What makes them act? What are the morals and ethics that they each respond to — or reject? There are ten distinct first person voices in LIE. In addition to the teen voices, there are three fathers as a well as a high school coach, struggling along with the teens about the consequences of this hate crime….

    that’s all for now! Enjoyed your posts! Truly, author of LIE

  • musodad

    You’re never too old for anything, especially for listening to that kind of music. That’s the beauty of it, it’s universal. If I was in the same room as you now I’d pick you up and crowdsurf you, we’d need at least one other person in the room but let’s not worry about the minute details for the time being. We’ll improvise if need be.

  • P

    Yippee, it’s open. Oh great! And I was SOOOOOO very good and respected your ‘closed’ hence deleted loads of ‘grown up’ insight I was going to send you via twitter, except I’ve forgotten most of it now.

    I think my most urgent point was, to know you’ve reached ‘grown up’ you need to be able to sit upside down on your sofa and speak as you breathe in (rather than out … it’s quite a skill!) and embarrass a younger person than you with your behaviour. That’s grown up. (Not adult, but grown up).

    And your post is not silly. What is age but a measure of time and what is time? We all get a different amount and different journeys and different people will appreciate different things at different times and do different things. We all have our own challenge somewhere in the mix. If anything you’re never too old, however you may be too young occasionally and what you find easy my terrify another.

    Important stuff like being fully truthful about your likes, feelings and needs, being passionate about your dreams and joy, perhaps being grounded and free in the same moment (the nice of life – heavy & helium) that’s a far more important measure to me. And then the really difficult bit is to respect yourself enough to trust that this is the way you have the choice to go and believe and trust yourself. Perhaps that’s grown up?

  • Kristi

    I so identify with what you said. I feel a bit ridiculous that I haven’t yet managed to do what I actually want to do with my life, at age 45. And I don’t feel like a grown-up, either.

  • Unexpected Twists and Turns

    […] friend, Dad who Writes, another writer balancing family and writing and work, wrote a wistful post about getting older, figuring out how to be a grown-up (or not figuring it out) and wondering if […]

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