Thursday, April 22, 2010

About that whole Street Smart thing

When I started this blog I had the intention of trying to become "street smart." Once my friend David told me that he is street smart while I am book smart, and that made so much sense to me that I defined myself (on this blog) by his words.

What exactly does street smart mean anyway? To me it means being fearless. Being calm and collected in unfamiliar situations. Experienced, competent, and able to handle whatever life throws at you. As Kipling would say, able to "meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same." It means being grown up.

This week I wrote a paper for Art of the Dance, my class on the history of British dance. The assignment: "Design a full-length narrative ballet, based on a work of your choice." I chose Peter Pan, one of my favorite books. (Have you read it? If not, do yourself a favor and read it today. You will love it, I promise!)

I used the paper as an excuse to re-read the book, and it must have been as good as I remembered, because my 750-word assignment quickly became 3,000 words long. It was all there, just as I remembered it. The Neverland full of beasts, pirates and Indians. Tinker Bell's fairy dust, Wendy's kiss, and Peter's pipes. Madcap careless adventures, where nothing matters but this moment, the nightlights are safely lit, and we can always go home to Mother.

I used to read Peter Pan and promise myself "I won't grow up." No sir. Not me. I would have none of the peer pressure, fast cars, or acne. I voted against the mortgage, paychecks, and vacation days. You can keep your 29th birthday and two-car garage. Thanks, but no thanks.

 Then I realized it wasn't actually up to me. I have to grow up. No amount of irresponsibility or playing dolls with my 6-year-old sister can change that. Sometimes I am ok with that and sometimes it makes me very afraid.

Here's the thing: I'm not sure if I will ever actually be "street smart," at least not the way David meant it. But I can be fearless when I have to be. I can stay outwardly calm when I am panicking inside. I can, God help me, grow up - because here's the other thing: God really does help. I am not, and never will be, alone. I can't control that I have to grow up, but I can try to go about it gracefully.

 That's why I've decided to ditch the "Book Girl" label on my profile, even though I won't change the name of the blog. Yes, books are my solace, a source of joy and wisdom and strength. But I'm so much more than just "The Book Girl." I'm Tess, and who exactly "Tess" is will become clearer as I finish growing up.

1 comment:

  1. Books are a wonderful joyous way of escaping into another place and another time.
    When I was a little girl I learned a song..
    :The best book to read is the Bible...
    It can be a difficult one and I have favoured parts. I love the New Testamant...St John, The Acts and Romans. God bless everything for you. Peace be with you also. Hugs