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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Column: Don’t ever grow up

Remember those days where the world felt overwhelmingly large? When there was no Facebook or iPhones to distract us? Do you remember having a “secret” place that you would wander around after school to embark on your daily “adventures”? This feeling was so light. Everything was less complicated and life’s possibilities were endless. Do you remember that scene in Peter Pan when Wendy says: “My parents wanted me to grow up” and Captain Hook responds, “Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience … and pimples”? 

Well, I would’ve said back to Captain Hook, “I don’t want to grow up! Ever!” 

Things are pretty heavy these days. It’s not easy living the life of a college student. There are too many sleepless nights where we’re up late worrying about midterms, projects, tuition, bills, bills and more bills. Why sit around and paint, write or make music when you got rent to pay? 

I guess it’s a completely legitimate excuse not to just “bum around.” I do think, however, that the only way to keep sane is to stop once in a while and cater to our creativity. Like everything else, it’s something I think everyone has regardless of whether they are aware of it or not. 

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” 

We’re in a world where we put ourselves into categories: you’re an engineer, you’re a doctor and you’re an architect. At what point can we say we’re more than one?

Also, I’m not speaking explicitly about the conventional mediums of art – you don’t have to know how to read music or to use oil paint “the right way” to be creative. I think it’s about how we go about problem solving and approach challenges. You rarely see a seven-year-old pick up a crayon and say, “I’m not a drawer, I can’t draw, so I’m not going to do it.”  Nope, they just pick up the box of crayons and go at it.  

I guess where I’m going with all of this is that I wish a lot of us were more inhibited when it came to letting that inner child come out. It’s that artist within all of us – it’s the kid with a crayon drawing all over the walls and getting yelled at by our mothers. It’s that kid that would pick up a pile of leaves and pretend to play kitchen on the top deck of our imaginary pirate ship. Whether you’re a science or math major, I think if we all put this creative mindset in how we approach the world (with good common sense of course), you’ll be surprised at how much happier you’ll be.

One of my favorite novels of all time is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Every time I read the novel, I get this unbelievable feeling – it’s a strange mixture of nostalgia and joy. I had never cried and laughed while reading a book before. Foer’s writing in the novel captures the endearing nature and innocence of the main protagonist, nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who lost his father in the tragedy of Sept. 11. Foer’s use of fragments and run-on sentences mirrors the exact way a kid’s mind would work. It’s absolutely precious. Foer reminds me that I never want to loose that way of thinking – a way of thinking that is so innovative and imaginative. And for the rest of this column, I would like to share with you favorite passage from the novel. Be prepared to smile.

“What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don’t really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”? 

UYEN CAO would like to know what is your favorite animated film! Let her know by e-mailing her at arts@theaggie.org.


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