Author: Zuniga, Nancy

I Refuse to Grow Up

“I may be growing older, but I refuse to grow up.” Many of us have seen that slogan on bumper stickers and T-shirts. For me, it is more than a slogan; it's a mantra, a way of life.

We often hear someone express regrets along the lines of “I hate to miss the {festival – jam – campout} but I have to {work - clean the house - pull weeds - spend quality time with my non-bluegrass-loving significant other}. Whenever I hear this, I feel a certain knot in my stomach, an uneasy feeling aggravated by the speaker's ...umm....maturity. Why couldn't I have developed that sort of self-discipline? Guilt, that nasty little devil that sits on my shoulder and whispers reminders about what I “should” be doing, nags at me. I want to knock that little sucker off with a 2-by-4. Or a banjo headstock.

My dad had a favorite Russian saying that he would frequently invoke. I never learned to speak Russian, but it sounded to me as though he was saying “Pozzhe ghella, goo-lie schmella,” which he translated as “First work without hurry, then play without worry.” (I wondered as a kid how the same phrase could rhyme in two different languages.) My father's admonitions didn't prevent me from procrastinating; they merely ensured that the irritating little guilt-devil would be ever present on my shoulder as I set about putting play before work.

In time, we all learn just how far we can push our luck in placing pleasure before obligations. Sometimes it's a matter of survival; obviously one cannot pay the bills or maintain relationships by continually putting impulsive desires ahead of responsibilities. But I'll admit that I do a heavy amount of rationalizing when it comes to taking time off for bluegrass pursuits in spite of pressing demands to take care of business.

Like anyone else, I have some priorities...for example, my son's college graduation in a couple of weeks. I generally find ceremonial rituals to be tedious, and I'd certainly rather be jamming than sitting on a hard folding chair watching several hundred people walk across a stage to receive diplomas. But I have to look at the big picture: (1.) I want to remain on good terms with my son, and (2.) I never thought I'd see the day, so I must be there to witness it. Fortunately, my son's graduation ceremony doesn't conflict with a bluegrass festival, although if it did, I would reluctantly have to pass on the festival. But it's hard to imagine many other things that could keep me away from an event to which I've looked forward all year.

I'm comforted in knowing that in spite of all the mature folks out there, I am not alone in setting bluegrass as a higher priority than most other obligations. Although “Fathers Day” by its very name implies a family day, there are those dads who would rather spend their special day without the wife and kids if being with family means they would have to miss the Fathers Day Festival. I've heard more than one guy rhetorically ask why he shouldn't be able to spend his day doing what he wants to do, even if it means leaving his non-bluegrass-loving family to spend Fathers Day without him.

Henry and I will be attending the Parkfield Bluegrass Festival this weekend, regardless of the fact that the weeds around our property are three feet tall, the house needs cleaning, and there are many other weekend projects that we “should” be doing. I'm vowing to knock the guilt-devil off my shoulder as I enjoy the great music and great company in Parkfield. It's a pretty safe bet that the weeds, dirt, and odd jobs will be waiting for us when we get home. I may grow up in time to get it all done. Or not.
Posted:  5/6/2010

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