The Mysteries of 21st Century Adulthood, Jaguar Sharks & Inconclusive evidence

My parents are doing a major renovation at their house, which means cleaning out a lot of old boxes, which of course means I recently ended up taking home a bunch of books from my childhood and young adult years. Among them was the Chris Van Allsburg book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.” Van Allsburg is usually known for illustrating and writing “Jumanji” and the “The Polar Express.” Those are beautiful books, but I think “Harris Burdick” is my favorite. It’s made up of 14 different drawings, each with a title and a brief caption: in one, entitled “Under the Rug” a man holds a chair over his head, as he stares in horror at a giant lump under the carpet; the caption reads, “Two weeks passed and it happened again.” Ah, what a delicious invitation to creativity. I was shy, with a hyperactive imagination, so needless to say, I spent hours looking at the pictures and then sitting in silence as I imagined a back story for each illustration.

I loved the book, because I loved the idea of an endless combination of possibilities. I also loved the idea of mystery, of lives pumped full of excitement and sharp turns of plot at every corner. Didn’t every life unfold in the manner of a classic story? Buildup, conflict, climax and then a neat, lovely denouement?

Dear English teachers, why didn’t you tell me, that my life would be more like The Lady and the Tiger? In other words, there are no easy answers. There are no obvious answers.

This particular blog post won’t have much of a conclusion. It won’t have a conclusion because I haven’t figured things out yet. And that means it’s going to meander. So, sorry.

In my first blog post, I wrote that I’m going through one of those “what does it all mean” periods. And I’m not alone. Lately, it seems like al lot of people I know are at some kind of major crossroads or turning point, whether it be in their careers, their romantic relationships or their friendships. There’s a lot of crying, a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of staring at each other across the table with the same looks in our eyes as if to say, so this is it?

It’s not that life is terrible. There are wonderful things to enjoy. I am one lucky, lucky, lady. I’ve got food, shelter, Internet and Girl Scout Cookies — that is a downright luxurious life.

There are just those days, where you think, wait, wasn’t I just 16, planning the rest of my life yet having no idea what would become of me? Of course, 16 doesn’t exactly sound appealing either. (I could show you a picture of Vianna Davila at that age, but it would have a Medusa-like effect, and then you couldn’t read the rest of this blog post). I just think we naively hope life will be filled with lots of moments like this:

But in reality, I think it’s filled with more moments like this (metaphorically speaking):

No, we are not all in submarines looking for the Jaguar shark that ate our best friend. (although, those red beanies are AWESOME). I think we want to work up the energy to confront things, confront anger, or to make some big kind of splash — but in the end, we are sometimes at a loss to understand it all, and we just have to accept and let go and release all the old frustrations and expectations and love what we have. And that’s the moment when we need all of our friends’ hands on our shoulders.

There’s a great line in this scene, that sums a lot of things up to me, though I couldn’t explain it now. So I’ll just write it.

Cate Blanchett’s character looks down at her soon-to-be-born son. “In 12 years, he’ll be 11 and a half.”

Bill Murray’s Steve Zissou replies, “That was my favorite age.”

Yup, Steve. Ditto.


~ by viannadavila on January 31, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Mysteries of 21st Century Adulthood, Jaguar Sharks & Inconclusive evidence”

  1. but my life was totally like the first clip….of course, i was brian krackow.

  2. holy moly linda – I was thinking the exact same thing! I guess there were a lot of brians.

  3. Harris Burdick sounds awesome… I need to pick that up. I agree with you on the crossroads — what I think (hope) we learn as we grow older is how to accept the changes and challenges gracefully, and how to have faith in ourselves and trust the end result! I’m hoping that this is what my 30s will be about, anyway.

  4. I love this post! I’m so glad you posted a clip from “My So Called Life”. Even though the show debuted when I was already in college, it still reflected parts of what I dealt with growing up. I loved that show so much that when I was in graduate school I did a presentation on it for my Learning Theoris course.

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