NOTE: I originally wrote this in 2009 after receiving a Kermit book from a dear friend. I no longer agree with the final sentence I wrote then.
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending
We've done just what we set out to do
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you."
~ Jim Henson, The Muppet Movie
A friend sent me the book, It's Not Easy Being Green. Of course she intended the double entendre. It's not easy living "green" and trying to convince others to help save the planet before it's too late.
I glanced through the little book about Kermit and friends and thought, "How silly. How naïve." I reflected on the privileged position from which such work is created and from which it is enjoyed, while our fellows, human and non-human, exist in a living hell of poverty and disease in landscapes denuded of resources, including the trees from which such books are printed. I couldn't bear the juxtaposition.
Later, I picked up the little book again, this time reading some of Jim Henson's comments, some of his associates', and more of "Kermit's". I was taken with the memory of how thoroughly I had lived that very life, in the theater, spreading hope, coaxing laughter, eliciting tears of heartfelt connection and beauty, singing and dancing and acting out the joy of living.
Now, I cherry-pick words, struggling to find those strong enough to carry the weight of truth (for truth is quite heavy these days) and yet light enough to even be read in an adolescent culture bent on avoiding at all costs anything which might damage our self-image (most especially the pain and death visited on Earth as part of the process for creating all the beauty and light we want to continue to enjoy).
For a moment, I felt the disgusted rejection we feel for those who are still obliviously enjoying that which has been taken away from us. Then I asked myself, "Was I just naïve when I wrote all those songs and directed those musicals with children, years ago? Was that another lifetime? How do I connect that time of my life with this one?"
The answer swept over my shoulder with the Muse, bringing both clarity and relief. There is nothing wrong with keeping the heart of a child, filled with love and possibility, and open to all Life. What is wrong is to remain a child. No living being can remain dependent, feel entitled to "more" at the expense of others' "less", and long survive. Mind and spirit must cross over to adulthood, responsive and responsible, able to face truth squarely and deal with crisis proactively. Then, with duty done, wrongs repaired, balance and equity restored, it is fitting that the heart of the child will come out to play once again.
It's a sad deluded vision,
this creature of our time
Its body now is broken
Its smile it rarely has the chance to shine
It stands so high and mighty
With its never ending needs
While somewhere in the beating heart
The earth it vainly pleads
Oh you need that rite of passage
before you can continue on
That brave self-understanding
you can lean your dreams upon.
~ Dougie MacLean, "Rite of Passage"
Our Rite of Passage is now, a time of isolation, of facing horrors and standing. Not a time to "talk about" or to "try to", this is the time to act. Death is at our elbow. There is much to account for, even more to rectify. Life will never be the same, for we will never be children again. We will be adult, if we live.
As adults, we will no longer require a rich and powerful global ruling class to parent us: to engineer, grow, package and deliver our food, to own our water, to tell us where and how to live and work and dress and think and look and be happy. We will no longer need them and their armies, genocides, intelligence, propaganda, lies, taxes, pollution, diseases and greed. We can let go. We can stand up to them and win, because, when we are all adults, we will outnumber them.
As adults, we will be free to create the world we sang about as children.