Achewood really has the perfect coda to Michael Jackson: The old guy interrupts the middle-aged guys to explain their grief to them. “He was your Elvis,” he says, “and when your Elvis dies, so does the private lie that someday you will be young once again, and feel at capricious intervals the weightlessness of a joy that is unchecked by the injuries of experience and failure…. In other words, you died a bit today. Welcome to the only game in town.”
It reminds me of Neal Stephenson on being under 25 – his assertion that youth comes with the delusion that you could, if necessary, become totally badass. And growing up requires acknowledging that you’re not going to be what you once thought you could.
Michael Jackson never grew up, never acknowledged that he was never going to become perfect. He knew it, of course – who other than someone fleeing adult responsibility names his house “Neverland?” But still, some days, I wish I could avoid growing up too. I guess we all do.
But no: I’m never going to be a race-car driver, ninja, astronaut, poet, novelist, or public intellectual. Those aren’t really in the cards. What I am going to be – technical writer, marketer, blogger, husband, citizen, adequate gardener, affable dinner-party host – is just going to have to be enough.
I only hope that truly growing up doesn’t mean being forced to face the fact that even those diminished dreams are not feasible, or not capable of redeeming me.