Thursday, August 26, 2010

caterpillar nightmares

Dear little caterpillar,

Stop all your bitching about what a tough childhood you had. Sure, now you're wound tight and left hanging there, but I'm tired of hearing about it.

'Bout how cruel your momma was.

Look what my poppa did to me. Look what they're making me go through! It's child abuse!

She this. He that. She oppressed me. He abused me, I just know he did.

Don't get me started.

I hear all this in Dustin Hoffman's voice, as Hook in 'Hook'. All the cruelty of parents spoken with bored realism, so so convincing. Unassailable.

They didn't listen to me. They didn't love me. They... They... They... ad nauseum. Here's what the sitter did. Here's what my sister did. What my brother did. Here's what the Father did. Uncle. Teacher. The government... It's always everyone else, isn't it? How terribly convenient.

They didn't value my essence, or my education. They didn't listen to me, believe me, support me, encourage me, nurture me...

Right. It's true. It's all true. They suck. You're fucked. Now get on with it.

More Hook voice, "Your parents were happier before you were born..."

And the wise child responds, "You're a bad, bad man!"

And I respond, "Who gives a shit? This is your life. Let yourself be. Check out what being is all about! Have fun with it. There's a pretty good view from your spot on that tree.

Caterpillar, I am so sick of hearing your resentments! Waiting for someone else to turn you into a butterfly.

"Just gimme an 'A' and I'll be fine.." Like I'm supposed to make your life happen?

Expect nothing from anybody. You've got to do this yourself.

You and you alone. Either you do, or you don't. This is your metamorphosis, after all. Of course, Bettelheim was right — in the scheme of things it really doesn't matter.

Go ahead. Don't transform. See how that works out.

You know, it's okay not to be a superstar, not to make a major splash, not to be famous. It's just fine to hang there, and not crawl out of your shell. You don't have to thrive if you don't want to.

I can hear Bettelheim telling all those parents the one thing they didn't want to hear:

"Your children are average. The law of averages demands that they be average."

They almost lynched him, but they might have ruffled a feather or two in the process. Better just to give him a scowl. Alotta people felt that way about Bettelheim. I think it's 'cause he was so threateningly right.

Those were the greedy demanding upper crust parents wanting achiever children after their years of investment of time and the big bucks.

But this is about you, at the other end of the stick. Given nothing, nothing at all, poor baby — except a very good brain, and talent, and potential. And you spend it raging against the past, seething over what's been done. You, there, hanging all the time off a little branch, wrapped too tight, fighting to get loose, wanting instant butterfly like it doesn't take a lifetime of work to make it.

hey little caterpillar, don't you cry
momma and poppa won't see you fly
they've flown off, they're long gone
all you gotta do is just hang on

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