Adolescence. Acrylic. 2018
As I raise my son, I am brought back through the stages of my own childhood. And even as I take care to not tangle my issues with his, I cannot help but see myself reflected in his adventure. For me, adolescence was a passionate cocoon of confusion punctuated with moments of bright awakening. It was a furious hunt for fire, for love, for self lost in a wash of expectations and limited experience. I longed for wings and a promised land of bliss, some vast playful party of creative luxury that I imagined to exist on the other side of growing up. My eyes were filled with the possibilities of freedom, and without much awareness of the limits and responsibilities that come along with power and choice. But I was vibrant and alive with the flames of discovery. I was a cat on the prowl, a crow in the night, a rooster when I could pull it off. My mind, blind with an intoxicating mix of fear and adoration, swirled deliciously around the mysteries of girls, and there was little that seemed more important or meaningful than when we helped each other to play at adulthood. Not that they felt that way, but it was all so intense for me, a great burning, turning, yearning. Adolescence was a crucible of awakening from my self absorbed, self obsessed myopia, to the connections between little me and the world. It was rising in love with life in spite of, or even because of, or perhaps in rebellion against, all that was wrong with it. It was a beginning of awareness about the conflicts, the great internal battles that would subsequently shape my path, my relationships, my states of mind. With all that happened, I do feel lucky to have survived it, and I can still see how the seeds planted in that fertile time continue to flower, fruit, and extend into the next turning of the wheel.
The awakening, this passage through the cocoon of adolescence, from self to society, is inherently challenging. There's no path around that, at least not one that leads to fully conscious human beings. If you are a young man or woman working your way through the maelstrom and madness of those years, I hope you will find great pools of love and laughter to soothe your heart, and joyfully, deeply, remind you of what the struggle is for. While it's probably not quite what you imagine, there are many flavors of bliss on the other side of growing up, and the best part is that you bring that promised land into existence as you become its source.
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