Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Wisdom of Adolescence

Me, age 14.
I've been struggling with re-writing the teen years aspects of my memoir. It's so easy to say things I did or others did were mean, which I know is minimalizing and inaccurate. How can I depict, exactly, what happened between A and me, when I consciously thought she was "not cool" and so distanced myself, and yet, underneath, I also knew something I couldn't articulate for decades: that she also triggered me, was too close to my own trauma?

Last night, reading the latest issue of the New Yorker (don't be fooled - I am not caught up on its weekly overload. I just happened to pick up the issue that appeared in our mailbox and started there) I saw this passage in an article about John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars:
Green told me, “I love the intensity teen-agers bring not just to first love but also to the first time you’re grappling with grief, at least as a sovereign being—the first time you’re taking on why people suffer and whether there’s meaning in life, and whether meaning is constructed or derived. Teen-agers feel that what you conclude about those questions is going to matter. And they’re dead right. It matters for adults, too, but we’ve almost taken too much power away from ourselves. We don’t acknowledge on a daily basis how much it matters.”
This was tremendously healing for me. I felt myself palpably relax. Oh yes. That's right. We did know. They do know. In fact, I knew more then, was aware of more then than now, in some ways. Yes, I was detracted, distracted by social mores, but I am equally so now. What I am aware of now about the triggering, about the trauma, that I couldn't speak then - what I am aware of now I am only aware of because some part of me knew then.

I haven't read any John Green, have to say I actually hadn't heard of him before reading the article. I cannot vouch for his work or his view. But that paragraph alone helped open my own heart, which is needed again and again, to memoir-me. Adolescent me. She's got so much to share, and I can just let her speak.

I'll be watching Stars when it comes out, thought maybe not with the teen hoards, tomorrow.
Then again, maybe I will join the hoards. And listen carefully as they cry alongside me, feeling the wisdom they actually know they have, that we so easily dis-count as adults. And then I will go back and revise, revise again, until the wisdom of adolescence runs clear in the chapters of my memoir that cover my teen years.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. N is struggling with these same issues, I think. He tells me that "at his core" he is an "arrogant bastard", even though he also agrees that his actions don't reflect that... Strangely, at the same time, he says he is not sure if he has a "core personality", since he is very aware of how he changes to adapt to different social situations. I try to gently reinforce the idea that what matters is actions, what he actually does, not what the monkey-mind says, but of course this is a little bit triggering for me as well, so it is hard to be mellow and Zen about it all... :-\

    (Also, I totally recommend checking out John Green's pod- and web-casts. He covers a lot of interesting material ranging from personal stuff to history and politics (while his brother Hank does a lot of web stuff on science)... Not that you always have time to sit and watch for recreation, but it's something different for those times you do...)