You can Dress Me Up but You can’t Take Me Anywhere

I’m one of those people whose life has put me in circumstances and company well beyond my training and capabilities, let alone deserts. Meaning, I get to hang with the Cool Kids despite being a doofus, dork and/or nerd. Yes, I do know I’m out of my depth 99% of the time. I’m just incredibly lucky that others don’t seem to begrudge me the privilege. It’s amazing, really.digital illustrationI’ve gotten to taste recipes being beta-tested for an international cooking publisher’s latest cookbook, go bass fishing on a Texas ranch that predates statehood, been coached by a team from the US Secret Service, stage-managed the live broadcast of a major political figure’s keynote speech at a national convention, and had a photograph I shot featured on the cover of a multinational European magazine. I’ve spent a few days on a fully rigged tall ship, written thousands of poems, designed theatrical sets and costumes, and played on a cathedral carillon. Ice skated on a lake, dined with royalty, and sung in a quartet. Did I do all of this because I was specially qualified? Don’t be silly! What utter nonsense.

We all know that most of us Ordinary Folk find our way into any sort of distinguished company or notable situations only by stumbling into them or having them handed to (if not thrust upon) us. The truly remarkable thing is if and when we manage to rise to the occasion–or at least not fall down all over ourselves and our betters in the attempt. Me, I seem to find that quite often I’ve genuinely tried to prepare for the event so that I could almost fool some people that I look prepared, so perhaps it’s not entirely shocking that someone might tap me for the honor while under the misapprehension that I am prepared. Of course, there remains that delicately sad moment of revelation when I prove that it was in fact strictly an appearance and I am completely and absolutely not capable of anything spectacular, but fortunately for me that nearly always happens too late and I’ve already sneaked in on the honor.

I don’t know why I’m admitting all of this in front of you except that I’m not naturally a big liar, only incapable of recognizing my own limitations fully until I’m standing in that spotlight revealing them to all the world at the same second. Just consider yourselves politely forewarned that, no matter how well I might have polished up for the occasion, underneath it all still lurks the same cheerful incompetent, secretly knowing that I will be outed as such yet again but happy to be allowed into polite company in the meantime. Pipe down, Your Majesty, I’m enjoying my moment.

Perspectives on Age and Maturity

We’re well-practiced when it comes to assigning labels and categories to others, even to ourselves, and very often without great regard for fit and specificity. All of the young are immature or energetic or bratty or happy-go-lucky simply by virtue of their calendar age; all of those older than us are instantly deemed wise or experienced, crotchety, inflexible, low in energy, mellowed or whatever our personal biases tell us are characteristic of aging. And all of these generalizations or assumptions tend to be made as snap judgements from which we tend to be loath to move once set.digital artworkMost of us, truth be told, tend to match every one of those descriptors at one time or another in our lives, but very few stay in any of those states perpetually, let alone remain limited to them. We are ever so much more varied and colorful, generally speaking. One day, gentle as a lamb, and the next, rambunctious.digital artworkNot only is there nothing wrong with exploring the differences between us and other people, it’s useful and often highly desirable to get to know the range of characteristics and variations that we ourselves are capable of embodying. And it’s certainly a portal to an endless world of new vistas and horizons, meetings with unexpectedly wonderful others, and times spent learning inspiring marvels and unraveling mysteries when we embrace new encounters without prejudice.digital artworkWhile I am often a little too timid in approaching and meeting new friends and going new places and experiencing new things, I do know that my sheepishness can be overcome occasionally, with effort. And I know very well that what may have seemed quite formidable often becomes a treasured part of my life and loves once I’ve taken up the challenge. If I can’t quite handle ramming speed, I certainly hope I will always try to ramble forward with an open attitude, no matter which phase of character I’m in myself.

The Price of Innocence

Wye Not

Wye was an impoverished man

Because he didn’t know

The answer to all questions was

‘Because I told you so’—

Wye was a pauper and

He lies in Potter’s Field

Because he tried to find the truth

That others kept concealed—

Wye lived in such poverty

And died alone, unmourned,

Because he kept on asking things

Well after he’d been warned—

Poor Wye was a mortal fool

Despite being a hero:

In heaven, truth makes you a saint—

On earth, it makes you zero.graphite drawing

Apparently I Executed the Secret Handshake Wrong or Something

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Cinderella Opts Out

From your assessment of my deportment,

I must ask what the statement “of a sort” meant–

Oh, was I, I wonder, a shade improper,

Not brass perhaps, but a hint of copper?

Did I stand out from the regal crowd

By being a decibel too loud?

When I met the Queen, did I rudely greet her

With a curtsey too small by a millimeter?

Did I jostle the King, or step on his toes,

Or remark on the magnitude of his nose?

Have I shocked the royal entourage

With an unplanned glimpse of décolletage?

Say, what have I done in these latter days

To occasion such backward, lukewarm praise?

Do tell me where this prejudice starts

That substitutes etiquette for hearts!

I’ll not be one of the prince’s bijoux

Knowing I can’t have the wit to please you–

I’m off for home, where they make no sport

If my manners are only “of a sort”.digital artwork