Tag Archives: adulthood

Buying Towels and a Moment of Self-Reflection: I’m Already Grown Up.

For a while now, my husband has been talking about wanting new bathroom towels. And he was right, we needed them.

As an under-buyer, I take great pleasure in the process of wearing things out or using things up — and boy, we got good use out of those towels. They were worn, frayed, torn, stained, and generally in bad shape.

We were both home on the Monday afternoon of the long weekend, so my husband proposed that we use the time to go towel-shopping.

We went to Bloomingdale’s, where they stock about a hundred brands of towels. We looked around, identified a mid-range brand (conveniently on sale), and pulled out six white towels to take to the cash register.

As we were paying, my husband asked, “Are these nice towels?”

And I said, “Not super-nice, but nice enough. Did you want very nice ones?”

He said, “No. Just regular towels.”

And here’s the weird thing: I said to him, “When we’re grown up, we’ll buy really nice towels.”

And I immediately thought — what am I thinking? When we’re grown up? We’re already grown up! We have a daughter going off to college next year!

This is something I’ve noticed so often in myself: I have this feeling that everything in my life is…temporary, provisional. That my adult life hasn’t yet truly started or assumed its ultimate form.

But that’s not true. I’m a grown up already. If I want nice towels, I should buy them now. I can’t expect that one day, I will magically have an adult life, with nice towels or anything else. Everything is as adult, or not-adult, as it will ever be, unless I make a conscious change.

Do you ever have this feeling? That somehow, you aren’t yet really a grown up? It’s not a Peter Pan, refusing-to-accept-responsibility feeling; it’s that feeling that nothing is yet real or permanent, but that someday, it will become real and permanent.

Even though I know it won’t.

Have you had this feeling?

A Happiness Lesson from Claire Danes.

The September 30, 2013 issue of the New Yorker had an interesting piece, John Lahr’s Varieties of Disturbance, about actor Claire Danes.

Though I’ve never watched My So-Called Life (yes, I know this is unacceptable, and it’s on my to-do list), I do love Homeland, so I was interested to read the profile.

Danes was quoted saying something that really caught my attention.

“One of the lessons of her adulthood, Danes has said, was ‘that there is real honor in being a total goofball.'”

This struck me, because I’ve really worked hard, myself, to embrace my inner goofball. Not to worry about seeming dignified, or sophisticated, or knowledgeable, but to Be Gretchen.

In this respect, one of my patron saints is Julia Child, and of all the posts I’ve ever written, one of my favorites is my encomium to her. She was goofy yet masterly, light-hearted yet authoritative.

Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.

Realizing this was part of my embrace of my love for children’s literature. And therefore it’s especially appropriate for me to quote, in this context, a great master of children’s literature.  In his brilliant essay, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis wrote:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Yes, there is real honor in being a total goofball.

Agree, disagree? In what way do you allow yourself to be a total goofball?

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“When I Became a Man I Put Away Childish Things, Including the Fear of Childishness.”

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

–C. S. Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children

When I decided to Be Gretchen, and indulge my passion for children’s literature in a big way, this essay by C. S. Lewis helped me to understand why I loved these books so much, and why I should embrace it. (You can read more about this in The Happiness Project, chapter five.)

Is there anything in your life that you don’t indulge in, because you think it’s not grown-up enough? I was charmed to hear that a friend regularly plays Four Square with her three adult sisters.

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