Tuesday, January 19, 2016

TAMIR, HUCK FINN AND THE SENSE OF ADVENTURE

WHO AM I?
What part of the human spirit sends the Tamirs to the most dangerous place near where they live, a small city park, so they can be alone and play and dream and imagine with a toy gun beneath a hard, bare, concrete picnic canopy littered with heroin needles? What sends Tamir into such a place where adults would not go alone?
Young boys, the Tamirs, like the Hucks of previous generations, have an indefatigable sense of adventure up until the time grown-ups shame it, blame it, or otherwise constrain it out of them. Adventure is the air which children breathe, they “sense” adventure like people with eyes can see or people with ears can hear. Children are a receptor for the spiritual medium of adventure which exists around us all.
Grown-ups sense the danger in adventure.
Grown ups know the reality. Grown ups have grown into reality, have created reality in which they live. Grown ups try to numb ourselves to adventure because life has damaged us, beaten us down, told us we can’t win or covered up our adventure senses.
Grown ups are jealous of kids who still walk hand-in-hand with Dame Adventure. Grown ups warn children against small cottages made of candy in the dark woods and the old people who live there, of dealers in old houses with broken windows, of the wild beasts who lurk and wish to devour them, of black sedans or squad cars; and always, always grown ups tell stories of young children who were never clever enough, never strong enough, never brave enough because grown ups want the child to be what? Cowardly and fearful like ourselves? To avoid risk like us? To not get involved?

WHY AM I HERE?
Young boys, like Tamir and Huck believe themselves brave enough, clever enough, strong enough to overcome an addicted Pappy, a lack of privilege like our friend Tom, a lousy education from a poor school, a heartless community of auntie Pollys and the dangers of the River. Like Tamir and Huck, we started our journey breathing adventure floating on a raft down a big, big river with deadly currents and dangers. We loved it.
We are now grown-ups who breathe anxiety. We are afraid to look upstream. We know what we will see. Our River has been dammed and diverted. The water of our lives is now used for watering golf courses, McMansion suburbs and factories whose technologies transform the living into plumes of acrid, killing smoke into the air and dumping toxic effluent back into our lives.
     Education for what? For a maintenance job which kills the soul and pays so little we have to get a second job or a third? How did we become fearful Aunties or absentee Paps drunk on our self-importance?
Adventure in our neighborhoods has been transformed into racial profiling sludge, Army-style cops, soul pollution and community doubt; far deeper and more treacherous currents than ever ran in the River before.
Why can’t we grown ups be brave enough, clever enough and strong enough? We live on the River of life, too.

WHY AM I HERE?
We grown ups can breathe adventure again, too. And, when we do, our spirits will light up. We have arrived at a place downstream from where we started that we never imagined, at a future we now dread. In a strange land with which we must cope. But, why?
We can put the past we could not imagine, our fears we wished we could avoid, our shame, our blame, our failures, scars and weaknesses into the soles of our Nike’s and walk, like Tamir into the park, the garden, the dark woods, away from our homes, in our ’hoods, away from the self-made prisons in which we have locked ourselves away. Give away our privilege. Go where it is not safe. Go meet the danger we have created, you know it well – it matches up perfectly with our personal short-comings.
Go for adventure. When you feel fear, you will know you are close. You have hidden long-comings to transform the fear. Be a lonely Huck on a raft, floating away from un-civil civilization. Be a Tamir and take a walk into the park.
Things will be different when Tamir, like Huck, has a companion to journey with him. He needs a powerful individual, once enslaved, but now free - you. Tamir would not be dead if he had not been alone.

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved
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