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The Age Of Reason

16 Feb


While standing in line at FedEx yesterday, to work on a present for Ma’s Birthday,  I met with an interesting concept by chance. 

…A man of late forties to fifties, printing out some awards for “his kids,” struck up a conversation with me while we were waiting for his prints to complete and it would be my turn.  He volunteers teaching Photoshop and other computer programs to troubled inner-city kids in the area and was sharing some of their stories. 

These are kids he’s spent over a year with now, three of which (under the age of 16) are pregnant and are in a variety of other circumstances they are in no way prepared to face at this point in their young lives.  “Babies,” he kept calling them, which they are.  “His babies.”  But even with mixed feelings about the situations they now find themselves in, you could see the pride in their accomplishments that he told me about like any father would…boasting about how much promise they have and how far they can go in life, if they can just manage to shrug off the horrors they’ve seen, take responsibility for their actions and educations, and apply themselves.  Which is a tall task when you find yourself in their world.  But then, as he reasoned, we all of us have a moment when we have made that same decision, and came to the realization that the world and our place in it, can mean something.  If we choose it to.

…He called it: The Age of Reason.

His thesis from UW was on the topic, which I found something to really think about…so thought I’d pass it onto you.

Here is the theory…though not as eloquently put as he did:

What is maturity?  What is adulthood?  What is the transition marker from child to adult?  Is it an age like 18 or 21? Is it getting your first job, or graduating from school, or renting your first apartment?  Is it some first major emotional catastrophe? His reasoning is that none of those things are what makes you a conscious, contributing, adult human being.  He claims it comes from a “spark.” 

…It is a different moment for everyone…and it has nothing to do with age at all.  It has nothing to do with “what you want to be when you grow up.” It has nothing to do with your college career, or first car, or even parenting a child.  It is called, “The Age of Reason,” and it happens the moment you realize that you are more than the product of your parents, more than a person in your family, more than a student, or a friend, or a sister, or brother, or the kid with the highest SAT score in your graduating class. The “spark” is the moment you realize that you have a responsibility to the species, and history, and the future, you have something to contribute…when you recognize the gifts and powers you own, the powers they wield, and make the choice to use them for good. Or not. A crisis moment when you realize your infinite possibility (whether you are willing to reach for and achieve it, or not.)

“The Age of Reason.”

…So he asked me my age (as an example.) I gave 30 as a good, round number…(two years younger from my own)…and he went on from there.


(An approximation of our 40 minute conversation.)

He: When was the moment, you “knew?” When was your “spark?”

Me: The summer going into Freshman year. So, 13.

He: A youngish age.

Me: I don’t think I was ever “young.” I always knew what I wanted and always wanted to do and be it immediately. But I know that summer was when I realized that what I wanted could mean more, and involve more, than just “me.” It could matter to many people, by how I used what I have to be part of something bigger than me, in a group effort to make a difference.

He: 13.

Me: Yep.

He: Okay. So that was your “spark.” Now to find your Age of Reason, you subtract that from your current age. Why? Because THAT is the real age of your intellectual birth. THAT is how old you really are. Not the number of years on this earth. Until that moment, you were feeding and growing from others, and experiences and “life” as you knew it, like a baby nursing from it’s mother. But you weren’t weaned yet. You had no responsibility to share it, or contribute to this world until you realized you had a place in it, and powers to use. Get it?

Me: Sure.

He: Which makes you NOT 30 years old. You are 17. That moment was your “intellectual Birthday.” You are only 17 years old “WISE.” Get it?

Me: I do.

He: Which, if you take into consideration things like relationships…romantic or familial…and life choice-decisions, it makes a huge difference. You, for instance, may have a fling with a younger man of your age…but not a serious relationship I bet. First of all: your “spark” came young. Very young. Most are mid-teens when it happens…or even twenties…some even hit your age before it happens. The point is: if, say, you were with someone of 28…which isn’t far off…or even 32…but their “spark” happened much later. Let’s say he’s an actual age 32…

Me: Alright.

He: Say his “spark” hit at 20.

Me: Yes.

He: Which makes him what? In The Age of Reason?

Me: 12.

He: Right. And what in common of life goals, and intellect, and romance and all of it, has a 12 year old, with a 17 year old? Nothing. They speak totally different languages. They are at totally different places in their life, with totally different goals. It isn’t any more proper to be with that person for you, than if were you those ACTUAL. Living. Ages.

Me: Huh. Actually, kinda makes sense…

He: Sure it does. But see, the heartbreaking thing is…these kids? “My kids?”

Me: Yeah?

He: They haven’t reached their “sparks” yet. A lot of ’em don’t even know they have one, don’t even know they have a talent to share…don’t even know that they matter. These babies, who are having babies, haven’t even started yet…and they are already having to be responsible for a whole other human being. Which is not the same thing. And means a bunch of responsibilities they are in no way prepared for. But somebody’s gotta tell them…somebody has to show them that it isn’t all over for them. It hasn’t even started yet. They need to have hope, an idea that they can still “do” and “be” whatever it is they need to. There’s more to life than just living it…more than just the “job” and the “bills” and all that. But how do you tell that to a 15 year old girl, whose been kicked out of the house, and her 16 year-old boyfriend, who in 3 months are gonna be responsible for this whole other human being?

(I shake my head with total lack of words.)

He: See what I’m saying? These kids…they haven’t even been born yet. Haven’t even begun.

(I shake my head again. And he smiles at me.)

He: But YOU have. 17. It’s a good age to be.

(I smile.)

He: What are you gonna do with it?

Me: Oh. I’ve got some stuff up my sleeve, I think.

He: (Chuckle.) I bet you do. You work hard and don’t waste it. Just remember that one time you talked to that crazy old guy at the FedEx one day, huh?

Me: Old?

He: Well, to you. I am to 30. Take a wild guess.

(I look at him a second, as he pops his credit card back in his wallet and collects his pictures off the Kodak machine.)

He: Come on. Can’t hurt my feelings. I work with teenagers all day who think I’m ancient. Go on. Guess.

Me: (Shrug, as I pop my memory card into the machine.) Depends.

He: Huh?

Me: You want it in actual “years”…or “Reason?”

(He grins hugely, and points to me.)

He: I like you kid. I really do.

(We shake hands.)

He: Think about it though. Seriously.

Me: I’m already on it.

He: And maybe think on them, too. (To his packet of award print-outs.) They can use all the help and prayers or whatever you’ve got, to give ’em.

Me: I’m on that too.

(And with a last smile, he turned and headed towards the door.)


…Just so you know: I thought about it.

And I think there’s something in it.

And for him and “his kids”…I thought I’d pass it on.


Another Kind Of Life

8 Aug


The other day, I was trolling the nets looking for something to put writing focus toward, and found this script-call, due that day.

…Of course, there was no way on earth I’d be able to get it in on time, but the subject matter intrigued me, so I decided to use it as a writing prompt and do it.  After furious attack in type, I finally took a rest away from it for a bit, and returned to it yesterday with the often true realization, that it was shit. 

The obsessive nature in me had gotten too caught up in this world…in my head it was moving mountains and healing the sick…but I had forgotten to let the paper in on it.  This happens with me, sometimes.  Thinking too quickly and deeply, and it all comes out in a mish-mash of awful.  And now I’m sitting at that extremely familiar crossroads of whether to scrap it all n’ re-boot, or just shrug it off and call it, “free exercise.”

I decided I needed a Pro’s & Con’s list.

…Then I decided that I was too lazy to write one out, and that it would ultimately come down to just one of two things anyway:

1. Am I just opting out cuz I don’t wanna do the work?
2. Did I already get out of it, everything that I needed to?

…Which lead to:

1. Is this in fact just an “exercise” to nimble up a bit?
2. Do I want to actually bulk up on the concepts and body-build my techniques a little?

…Bringing on:

1. How important is “finishing” the work, so I can hold it up and say, “See, I have this whole thing over here.”
2. What in the piece is salvageable, and is it enough foundation to build a decent house on?

…Which finally culminated on down to:

“I need a Pro’s & Con’s list.”

So, for the sake of accountability and things, here it is:  


* I like the people.
This may sound vein…(being as the characters are products of my own imagination)…but they have good weight and balance, in personality, idiosyncrasies and humor. They have really valid points in arguments, are often smart-asses, and make me laugh. We’re “friends” now, in our way, and I dunno that I’m okay with just being the casual kind.  Maybe we should date? I dunno…

* I’m learning stuff.
I know “of” the topic matter, but not intimately.  This is requiring research, investigation, charting and google picture-looking.  I love going full “nerd” in book work again…I love learning things and looking at the stuff that I do know, a little differently.  It isn’t easy (or particularly “restful”), but hard work is sometime fun, and mostly good for you.  ‘Cept when it’s not.

* The topic is underappreciated.
Why not share the love?  Expand on something different, something not of the peanut butter and jelly norm.  Maybe it’s time for a little peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and pickle…you don’t “know” what tastebuds may or may not want if given the option!  The whole world could be just sitting here waiting in the wings, for me to set the new precedent of “awesome.”  And if I don’t do it, someone else will.  Which is how we get travesties like the “Twilight” series…

* I already have like 25 pages.
25 pages ain’t bad!  25 pages, is a solid thing…a two-scene operetta…a one-act…a really good appetizer with garlic and butter melted all over it! 25 pages is: 25 pages!  That ain’t nothin’ to sniff at!

* There’s no law saying I have to share it.
Even if I finish it…even if I spend days and weeks on it; even if it sits complete on my computer with no voices to it, I can still say I did it. And if it’s terrible or too strange or too revealing…if I chicken out in actually showing it to someone, I can still say, “I did it.”  “It was done!”  “I made that!”  No one may ever know or set eyes on it, but much like that recipe book I haven’t cooked a single thing out of, but still keep cuz the pictures look really good…it’s mine, and I own it!


* I can’t tell the “Baby” from the “Bath Water”
I know it isn’t “good” but I’m not totally sure which parts are definitely the “bad.”  Stripping it down to it’s nakeds and trying to separate it out might be impossible, what with the ever-loving infinity of ways I can take the thing and spin it.  So, if I were to go at the script with a wrecking ball right now, how the hell am I supposed to know what to keep and what to blow apart?

* What is my point?
I don’t know that I have one.  Which actually means that I don’t.  This shouldn’t totally discourage me, as plenty of scripts without a point have been written, produced and have purchased beach houses for their composers, before this. Also, sometimes a point will arrive later when you sit back and view the piece as a whole.  But those cases are when you have to go back and beat the crap out the script with more and more edits to clarify just what the hell that is.  Which is a lot of work.

* It’s a lot of work.
Maybe I have enough “jobs” right now.  Maybe I don’t need another place where my head has to go and be all reasonable and thinky and things.  Maybe it just wants to sit on a couch after work and watch Buffy.  That could totally be what it needs right now.  Course, I’ve sorta already been doing that a lot lately.  Which is how I gained all this weight.  So, maybe I should scrap writing altogether and get my fat ass out on a damn walk for a change.

* It’s never as good on paper as in my head.
Often, it’s just sheer disappointment.  I dunno why.  We speak the same language, and know all the same similes, gimmicks and jokes…but my head is always smarter, funnier and better looking than the words end up as, on the page.  It’s a once-removed ratio of goodness.  Like my speaking vocabulary is severely limited and made awkward because of dated exclamatories (“Rad!”),  too slow call-up recognitions (“you know, that thing with the stuff by whats-his-face?), and general social-retardedness with regards to small-talk (” I well too, you? How are.”) Where I know without a doubt, that I come off better on “paper” than “in person,” there is equal truth that I’m gooder in “brain” than in “write-speak.”  It’s just true.

* I have other things I should pro’bly be doing.
Shows are starting up again, people are consistently missing at work leaving holes that need filling in.  Then I’ll be taking my own vacation, with a Cuz in tow… to see the world of everything we have here to offer.  Also, I really need to start back into exercising more than just my jaw (while in the act of chewing.)  Digging in right now is just not the best timing.  It never is, but this might be a particularly worse “not the bestness” of it.  Also, I think I’m just lazy.  Not so much that I can’t waste hundreds of words bitching and making excuses about writing a thing…but enough to put off just going ahead and actually agreeing with myself to write it.

…So goes the battle, friends.

Wonder which one I’ll pick.


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