Does Being a Grown-up Mean Maturity?
Have you seen the 2016 English-language French-produced computer animated movie The Little Prince yet? – A Little Girl meets an eccentric old Aviator who tells her a fantastic tale about a young prince…
I enjoyed the movie, almost as much as the original classic tale. The new movie stays true to the original message of how fake we have built the world to be, and how tender our innocence is. That was moving.
Once upon a time, when I first arrived in Canada, I went for a job interview, in Richmond. This today non-existing company had some unique way for job interviewing procedure. Amongst all the questions I was asked was this one, “What is your favourite book?”
I answered without hesitation, “The Little Prince.”
The interview manager looked at me flat, not knowing what to say for a while. Maybe she didn’t know the book. Maybe she suspected that I did not actually know how to grow up, or how to be a grown-up. I could almost hear her thinking yet out of politeness not asking: “Isn’t that just a children’s book?” All the while I was wondering what this had to do with the position I was applying for.
I was not hired for the job, but that was not news. I already knew it, that moment from the look on the interviewer’s face.
I still regard The Little Prince my favourite book though.
To be a grown-up can be assumptiously (is this an English word? Or am I assumptiously making it so?) taken as being mature. It is not necessarily so. Now I am a counselling therapist. I found to a large degree, to be a grown-up is to learn the game of pretending. The little child who said in The Emperor’s New Clothes, “But he hasn’t got anything on.” Is he childish? Or is he mature enough to say the truth?
Being a counsellor, I have observed that a lot of people’s problems lie in the pretense. Generally speaking, people who don’t pretend so well have more problems in their lives than those who do, but I see them with more hope for their soul. Those who pretend so well that they don’t even know that they are pretending generally do not make their way into my clientele.
It’s all good if we can all get by pretending, but our heart knows better. And that knowingness is not letting us settling with the pretense. This inner knowing can create problems when we continue to pretend and fake, so that we can accept ourselves, all the while who we truly are is already accepted by acceptance.
So does it go like this in my practice?
A caller: Hello, Kemila. Can I make an appointment with you? I am depressed.
Kemila: That’s great. Let’s take a good look at what the depression tells us.
Yes, it does.
Watching the movie, it broke my heart to find that after initiating, unknowingly, the Aviator into the extraordinary world of wonder, the little prince himself, after he grew into “the Mister Prince” and a chimney sweeper, subscribed to the “work hard, make money” grown-up world and lost that wonder.
I assume sweeping chimney job assignment came from the previous experience of cleaning his active volcanic eruptions on his own little planet. The image of the adult-like Prince in the movie was not very admissible to me. Not that the Little Prince can’t grow up, but that… no, he can’t.
There is always a soft spot in my heart for the little prince. “What’s truly essential can only be seen with the heart.” The innocence does not only belong to the children, it belongs to the humanity. The first step for maturity is to be true to ourselves. Without that, we are not even being the “self” so how can we call pretense-oriented “grown-up” world maturity?
We can be mature, and innocent, and adventurous, and imaginative, and magical. After all, “growing up is not a problem. Forgetting is.”