Sometimes I think that growing up, or growing wise, is actually more a process of unremembering all of the destructive directives and the coded lies we’ve been soaking up since we were kiddos—more a process of shedding axioms and “absolutes” than of accumulating them. I think that growing up maybe feels like growing small, or growing light. The wisest people I know are also the most humble and most free. My favorite grownups are usually, in their burning cores, the most childlike. Maybe growing up is just one big comprehensive shrinking—you feel smaller every day, you know less every day.
These days, I’m forgetting more and forgetting faster with every passing sunrise—the good kind of forgetting. Forgetting how I’m supposed to act in relationships, forgetting the meaning of the verb “to act” entirely, forgetting what used to make me scared (I try to recall the fears but they’re so alien sometimes), forgetting shoulds and shouldn’ts and should’ves. These days, happiness is piling up like generous quiet drifts of snow. Some of my most deeply lodged lies are working themselves loose—I feel the unclenching in me, a white fist opening one slackening finger at a time, though I hardly dare to say so.
Jesus said we must become like little children to be a part of his kingdom, which once offended my sensibilities because it sort of smacked of anti-intellectualism, but now sometimes all I want are the ways-of-being that I lost between childhood and now: how natural it was to trust other people, how easy it was to delight in any created thing, how much mystery seemed latent in everything, how intuitive love was, how little I noticed myself.
One of the beautiful side effects of beautiful music is that it makes you feel incredibly small, which is a pre-condition for awe, which is one of the best things you can experience inside these human parameters. This week I’ve been listening over and over and over to War on Drugs’ album Lost in the Dream–some of the most consuming, exquisite recordings I’ve heard in years. Auditory annihilation. They feel like rolling through American wildernesses, cracked badlands of the heart and country. The album’s closer is “In Reverse,” and like all art, it’s open to interpretation, but to me it sounds like someone who has come to the very end of himself, someone who has found his own limitations to be utterly real and unavoidable, someone losing his grasp on the life he once thought he owned, someone finally getting free.
Is there room in the dark, in between the changes?
Like a light that’s drifting in reverse, I’m moving