Growing Up vs. Growing Old

I was reminded recently of an event Tracy and I were invited to years ago: it was a Halloween party, and the hosts specifically asked us to come in costume. This was in the days when the film The Fellowship of the Ring was still new, and we’d worked up costumes of one of the Ringwraith for me, and of Arwen for Tracy, and we were only too happy to drag ourselves over there, being careful not to slam any part of our flowing outfits in car doors.

When we got there, a friend’s mother, who had taken up photography and is quite good at it, asked us to sit for her to take our portraits, and we did. It was after that we began to notice something: none of the other grown-ups were wearing costumes — only the kids. Not only that, but many of the adults were shooting us looks like we were from Mars.

Many grown-ups seem to be eager to disapprove of “childish behavior,” and it pisses me off. The whole point of Halloween is to dress up and have fun, and there is no law that requires grown-ups to stop that beyond a certain age. Dressing up in funny, unusual, or scary costumes is a chance to live as someone else for a short while, and it’s refreshing. Also, as I’ve mentioned previously here in other posts, I admire technical ability of costumers and cosplayers who can really pull off a good look with stuff they put together themselves — as opposed to a store-bought costume.

Another gripe with this mind set is the attitude that animation is only for kids. I could point to all sorts of examples where this idea is demonstrably false — from Fritz The Cat and Wizards to Heavy Metal and Tripping the Rift. In the past, animated short films, feature films, and TV programs have always walked a fine line, throwing in jokes that will keep the adult viewer amused, while still playing to a kid audience. These days that’s no longer the case, but many still cling stubbornly to old concepts. I appreciate a good animated show; in fact, I’ve written an article about THAT previously as well, listing off a few of my recent favorites.

I work in an industry that is seen by some as entirely made up of “Kid’s Stuff”, and that’s frustrating too. Games should be enjoyed by the whole family. Adults who are quick to criticize games as entertainment have either spent too much time playing crummy games, or maybe they’re afraid to lose, or afraid that the game will be too complicated for them to understand. Those fears are completely fair, and all I can say is, there’s lots of help out there, both in picking a good game, and in understanding how it works once you bring it home.

Growing up doesn’t mean giving up things you enjoy: it means being responsible for your actions, contributing to society in a meaningful way, and acting as a guide and mentor to younger or less experienced people. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore, and it certainly shouldn’t mean someone can denigrate your simple pleasures. If you can’t do that — or can’t allow others to do that without criticizing them — you’ve grown old, sending your inner child packing along with that sense of wonder that brings joy to our lives. The world would be a better place if we could all enjoy those simple pleasures a little more often.

2 thoughts on “Growing Up vs. Growing Old

  1. Hallelujah, Brother Bill! Couldn’t agree more. My 15 year old daughter said to me just the other day, “I’m glad you’re my mom, because (talking about her desire to cosplay and play D&D) you GET it.” Biggest. Compliment. Ever. Yes, both my husband and I “get it”. We do the whole adulting thing, have jobs, are responsible for our actions, our bills, etc. But we also think that being a healthy adult means having fun. Whatever your definition of fun is. For us, it’s all about gaming and entertainment, but I say, whatever your “poison” is, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else and you’re letting your inner child come out to play, it’s all good! Seems to me this world would be a much better place if we all allowed ourselves a little more healthy fun!

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