I spent a large percentage of my formidable years avoiding the effort it takes to be great at anything. Growing up is hard, it’s downright impossible, and finding ways to fit in or feel part of something is nothing short of a rite of passage. Finding ways to avoid schoolwork and pretending to have no idea what it means to be responsible seemed just par for the course. I wasn’t a lazy kid but… ok, so I was a really lazy kid. But come on, cut a guy some slack because as a young kid the predictive algorithm of what it takes to be successful was more accessible than I cared to accept.
I mean let’s be honest. In school, any grade really, most of what it takes to bring home the proverbial bacon is a simple dedication to completing homework on time. That, plus the ever so important step of marking each assignment with your name, or something that vaguely resembles the pencil marks which could be interpreted as your name. Sure, there is more to it but it is amazing how far you can get on just putting in the time to get the work done. This simple concept, blanketed in tragedy, was my undoing while receiving years of government provided learning.
The idea of putting in the effort to get the job done is something that can be found in the prologue of pretty much any book or essay on the concept of how to be an adult. As a kid I wasn’t interested in the idea of getting any help on the subject let alone a book on the topic. So, where did this land me? Well, let’s just say there were some things that happened over the years that I am not totally proud of but that helped shape who I am today. Things… Let’s just say things because honestly this could be your story, it could be your kids story and the specifics of how we make mistakes don’t really matter.
Over the years there are a lot of movies or television shows that deal specifically with this issue. Films celebrate the educator that connects with the misguided student or vilifies some of individuals who end up unable to move with pomp and circumstance. Last night I watched the movie, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” and was shocked at how much I enjoyed the film. It was funny; I laughed and laughed often. It was sad; I almost cried twice, and feel free to interpret the word cry in almost in any way you like. It was inspirational; Who knows what was intended but I walked away feeling optimistic. For those of you unfamiliar with the film here is a link to the trailer:
Okay, so this is nothing like my life. This is fantasy. I mean, it is almost cartoon like in how it approaches some of the more far reaching concepts which is just part of its genius. I won’t recap the whole movie but I do want to dig into one of the themes of the film a little bit: Acceptance.
We are who we are, whatever that means, and in the end it is up to each of us to decide how we interact with one another. This film is filled with people who wouldn’t fit in with any of today’s social elite. The film’s protagonist, Rickey Baker, is a 13-year-old boy headed to his last chance home before he takes up permanent residence in Jouvey. Baker pairs up with an illiterate bushman whom he calls Uncle, and is capable of spending years off the grid. Each character is fantastically unique and the dialogue is well crafted and those of you who read my blog often know I am a sucker for good dialogue.
Again, this is nothing like my life but I couldn’t help but draw a few parallels between Rickey Baker and myself. Surprisingly enough it was the moments throughout the film where Baker seemed lost, where he seemed hopeless, and when he finally found himself, well… that made me think about myself at his age. I am not trying to make you feel bad for me, or think I was a train wreck of a kid but understand that these moments of self-discovery are important. And what might be even more important is that for some kids that process of self-discovery can be way off script.
So we as a society put kids in groups and we pass judgement with the understanding that everyone will eventually fit into a round hole regardless of their shape. For me I was a giant square peg trying to be crammed over and over again into that round hole and I just didn’t freaking fit. But that didn’t matter, it didn’t. I am doing the adult thing with the best of them and it is important to see that my unique path didn’t put me on the road to failure.
Acceptance. I get it now. It is more than just being open to different viewpoints, or lifestyle traits. Acceptance. It is about understanding and allowing each individual’s life path an opportunity to grow into, well, whatever it grows into. For me, my life didn’t take a normal path, it didn’t follow any historical charts, and I certainly wasn’t the typical kid for my parents to imprint their values. But I am me and this means something. So no matter how weird, no matter how unconventional your life may seem, take comfort in each moment. Not because they are building on something but because each moment is just that, a moment. We get to decide who we are and what we become and the moments we live along the way are just part of the journey.
I’ll leave you with a moment from the film – enjoy.