One Christian gay guy’s thoughts and experiences along this whirlwind journey called life.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Where's the Magic?
When I was little I used to look forward to Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, my birthday, and certain other special occasions such as that. There was a magic to each of those times. There was excitement, fun, adventure, family, rejoicing, and love and warmth beyond measure. They were good times. They were the times I enjoyed most when growing up. However, the last few years those times haven't felt like that at all to me. The magic just isn't there. My birthday has become just another day—usually one that I dread. Halloween just comes and goes—I never even thought to carve a jack-o-lantern this year, and that's always been something I've looked forward to. Thanksgiving was a hectic free-for-all with everybody running around like wild chickens with their heads cut off just to get a piece of turkey and pumpkin pie. And Christmas usually isn't much better. At least with Christmas, there is still that feeling of family. And there are the decorations, the gift-giving, hopefully some snow, and the rejoicing in Jesus' birth that still makes it all worthwhile. But, overall, I don't feel the way I used to about any of those times. I don't look forward to them the way I did when I was little. They're not as fun as they used to be.
I wish sometimes that I didn't have to grow old. I wish I could stay young and even go back to certain times in my childhood. Everything seemed so much less complicated back then; so much simpler. I've heard people call that feeling having the Peter Pan syndrome, and I guess that's what I have to a degree. I've resisted so many adult things. In a lot of ways I've passed up and neglected certain responsibilities just because I wanted to preserve the illusion I wasn't an adult. And I know I've been wrong to do that. I've held myself back in a lot of ways by doing that. But I know a lot of the reason why I've done that is because there was so much I felt like I missed out on when I was growing up. Being a little older now, I've been able to do some of those things I felt like I missed out on, and I've enjoyed those things. That enjoyment has made me want to cling to more youthful days, and even certain ways of thinking, at times.
For instance, I never had very much quality time with my Dad when I was growing up. There just wasn't much that we shared an interest in. But then, about five years ago, my brother introduced us to the Nintendo GameCube. Now, it had been a long time since either of us had played any video games, and that went back to the time of the NES. So, when we saw how much better the graphics were and how much the level of game play had evolved over the years, we were both quickly hooked. My Dad and I both wound up playing several games together, spending hours on end doing that. And for the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed doing something with my Dad. That was a really good time in my life because of that. I actually felt like I could finally relate to him about something. I felt close to him. I felt loved by him. I felt like I was important to him. When I was little, that's something I never really felt or experienced. My dad had always spent so much time playing and listening to music—that was his thing—and I never got into that at all. Anytime I've ever tried learning an instrument I've ended up embarrassing myself terribly. It's just something I'm not talented at. But when we did find something we enjoyed doing together, I know I sort of desperately wanted to cling onto my dad, as a child would, I suppose, just so that I could make up for the time with him I felt like I didn't get from him when I actually was a child. I'm glad I've been able to get closer to my dad the last few years, and that has definitely made up for a lot of the lack of time we spent with each other while I was growing up, but there are a lot of other things I know I just can't go back and get.
I really like the Harry Potter movies, and I think one reason for that is because I see these young kids enjoying themselves on some grand adventure (called life). I see them making friends. I see the sort of camaraderie they have with each other. And I wish so much I could have had that when I was growing up. I always felt so alone when I was younger. I didn't have many friends at school or at church, and at home my brother was usually too busy running wild or hanging out with his own friends to spend time with me, and my parents were usually off doing what adults do. So, I felt alone. But when I watch those movies I see great friendship. I see people caring about each other, enjoying each other's company, and fighting for and with each other in desperate times. It makes me wish sometimes that I could have been in a boarding school of some sort when I was younger. I wonder if that might have forced me to interact more with other people my age, to have depended a little less on my parents, and to have developed in me more social skills at an earlier age. I could have possibly made more friends than what I actually did make. Friendship really is something I've been striving for the last few years. I've craved it, in fact.
I know I've made some horrible mistakes in my past when it comes to making friends. I was once told by someone that, “in order to make friends, you must first be a friend,” and that's something I've struggled with at times. I haven't always known how to be a friend to others. I'm still so used to isolating myself that I've allowed so many good opportunities for making friends just slip right by. But I just wish I could have had that when I was little. I wish I could have had the sort of friendships and quality time with others that I see those kids having in those movies.
In a lot of ways I don't feel like an adult at all. I like being silly sometimes and probably a bit immature. I like children's games like hide and seek and make believe. There is fun in those things. There's a chance to escape all the negative things of the world, the seriousness of adulthood, and to be free to enjoy oneself. There are a lot of adults out there who, to me, just seem like they've lost all fun in their lives, or that they've lost sight of true enjoyments. In their maturity, they've lost out on the fun things in life.
I like the innocence of children. I like their naïve ideas. I like that so many of them see the world in such a positive, worry-free way. I like their excitement about things. And I like the way their eyes are so full of hope, and there faces so full of warmth.
There is one picture of me when I was little that I like to look at sometimes, and it's a reminder to me to have fun. I have such a beautiful, innocent look about me in that picture. I see it in my eyes and in my smile. And when I look at it, I can't help but wonder why that had to change. I look at other pictures as I got older, and I see the smile become a little more fake along and along, and my eyes become colder or more nervous looking—having a lack of trust behind them. And I see that in the pictures of others too. I see peoples eyes become tired, and their faces long. And I can't help but think, wouldn't it be better if we could all just stay little children, and never have to grow up?
I love that part in the Bible when Jesus tells his disciples, “Let the little children come unto me,” and when he talks about having the faith of a child. That means trusting and hoping, and believing without any reserve. I wish I could still feel that way about a great many things. I wish that around the holidays in particular. I wish I could still see the magic in things the way I used to.
Sometimes I fear growing old. I fear some of the uncertainties to that. But then I remember there's still some magic left in this world. There's still some good to this world, even despite all of it's darkness. There are still miracles that happen all the time. There are still good times to be had. There are still days of wonder and peace and love and warmth ahead of me. And I gain hope at the thought of that, and to remember that God is indeed always with me and that He wants me to enjoy the life that He's given me. Then I remember He offers me something so magnificent to look forward to. He offers me an eternal future, wrapped in His abundant love, where all wrongs are made right, and where I hope my heart will always be that of a child's. He offers me a future better than any past could ever have been. And I know there is still a whole lot of magic left in that for me. There is still something to look forward to and to get excited about.