Growing Up read to me more like a reflection than a poem. It felt like those thoughts you’d get on a day when something monumental, often times negative, has happened in your life as an adult. Maybe you’d just broken up with your boyfriend of two years… Perhaps you quit from your piss-poor job of three years… Or maybe you’ve just emerged from your passing out as a youth corper… Or perhaps you’ve gotten the call from home about when you are going to bring home the Mr. Right.
‘Growing up sometimes feels like a choker
You know, that necklace that claws at your throat
Truth is, from a distance, it appears very beautiful
But just like the wearer alone knows where the shoe pinches
I alone know how it feels.’
There are so many moments that calls on reflections from a grown man or woman, he who is either on the threshold of adulthood or has crossed over into those daily treacherous waters of big decisions and bigger actions – moments that make him at once yearn for the simpler times of childhood and brace himself for the present as a grown-up. But these moments do not afford the luxury of permanence, because like it or not, you are growing up. You are ageing. Life is happening. It’s like the wheel of a windmill, constantly chugging, irrespective of time, weather or place.
‘Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down
Sometimes you don’t even know where you are,
Regardless, the carousel never stops turning,
Because life requires motion.’
And that is what is scary about growing up – the feeling that life may be running away from you, the notion that things are moving along too fast for you to catch up. This vulnerability tends to reaffirm the desire for one to regress back to childhood, to simply trade all these big, life-defining choices we make every day as adults for ‘the safe little world of ice cream and balloons and cake…’
And then, the writer wraps up this poem in a manner that is not typical. When people read works like this about life, there’s this tendency to expect a tough love finish, the kind of ending where you are expected to shrug off the melancholy of the read and carry on, taking the good with the bad.
That is not what happens here. The writer persists to the end with the whimsy that holds steadfast throughout the entire poem: a desire to stop time and recommence backwards. At this juncture, I was reminded of the 2008 Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which told the story of Benjamin Button, a man who aged backwards.
However, at the end of the day, life will still keep happening, like the wheel of a windmill, constantly chugging, irrespective of time, weather or place. And everything that defies this motion can only survive in those dark recesses of one’s mind, where everything comes true simply when you say: ‘…I wish.’
By Walter Ude
Walter is an award winning Nigerian Writer, Poet and Veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word, the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He writes at http://www.mymindsnaps.com/
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