which sounds like a pink pants-wearing puppy pahaha

“Immature” isn’t really an adjective anyone is thrilled to have in their resume of life. You’d never describe a friend as “undeveloped,” or “childish,” or “inexperienced” to compliment them on her life skills, and our culture of endless pursuit after growth isn’t very forgiving of those in stasis, in perpetual childhood.

Certainly, there is a purpose for and value in growing and developing into a more and more fully-formed version of the human you are. Even aside from the obvious areas of potty-training and penmenship, it is good to pursue this virtue that encompasses so many others. There is patience, there is self-control, there is diligence in the pursuit of maturity in something. Maybe even humility, if you can keep yourself honest about the true distance between your present self and the future one you’re striving toward, and aren’t just using the thing as your not-actually-humble-pie stump speech.

Even the Bible endorses learning and growing, in so many words in so many verses. It’s not good to remain childish, it says:

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Proverbs 9:9
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Hebrews 6:1-3
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…

Ephesians 4:12-13
To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood…

But then comes a verse that advocates for infancy — at least one kind of it:

1 Corinthians 14:20
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

YEP, there’s still a plug for MATURE thinking in there, too, but look at the command sandwiched by those thinkings: “Be infants in evil.”

Thesaurus.comming “immature” will, too, give you negative connotations galore:

[inexperienced, childish, unripe, imperfect, undeveloped]

But there are also synonyms in there that are rather:

[tender, green, unsophisticated, youthful, raw, unfinished]

…beautiful in their allusion to nature’s newest members.

There’s a certain charm in that second cluster of “immature” synonyms, right? There are more examples of charming tender-ness, green-ness, unsophisticated…-ness all over, when you take off your judgypants of High Maturity and really appreciate all those green baby leaves on the holly bush each new spring. You know those spiky clumps of pokey green leaves, so reminiscent of Christmas when paired with their inedible red berries? Yeah. After their Christmas hoorah and the riding out of the rest of wintertime, they become my favorite things to squeal at and squish between bare hands. And instead of squish, I really wanted to say “fondle” but fondle is another word that people generally feel squeamish about and doesn’t really get good ratings on thesaurus.com, either, so I’ll refrain. But now you have the image, right?

My point, in this unnecessary and unpoetic ode to baby holly leaves, is that it is exactly their [light] greenness, their youth, that makes these otherwise-spiky leaves something to be appreciated with your bare hands. Otherwise they’re toooo pokey and dangerous to handle. Their maturity will draw blood. [Trust me.] And being immature, or “infants,” in some ways means being free of certain negative influences and thought patterns that a mature, experienced, older-and-wiser mind may have to battle to hold back precisely because of their deep, past experiences of them. They might have experience in fighting those tendencies, but the infant in evil has the freedom of never having entertained any such thing.

All this…is simply a reminder to self(, self,) to think before pointing that judgy and suffocating finger of judgyness, accusing others or the self of immaturity — that immaturity can be kind of beautiful in its freedom and greenness. A reminder to self, self, to remember these beautiful aspects of being so young and green. To stop trying so hard to be mature that you stifle the desire to laugh easily at things, to burst into song and/or dance just cause feelings inspire you, to be unapologetically and unsuspiciously fearless of scrutiny because you’re just busy enjoying the energy of things. To be un-self-conscious and unabashedly so. I mean, that’s beautiful.

1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

Ecclesiastes 11:9
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

But yes, moderation in everything. And for your guidance on moderation, see here:

Psalm 119:9
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

to wear silly selebratory sunglasses,
to give and accept apology-gummies, no questions asked.
to rock ombre pink pants and frolic with a frisbee in the park. which just sounds like a pink pants-wearing puppy. which is cute, too.

to pass through

The Korean word for “communication” is 소통 [so-tong].

And the Chinese characters that root the word in its etymology:  

  • 소통
  •  소통할 소
  •  통할 통

So the first character is redundant to the meaning of the whole word itself, but the second is more interesting. It’s a character that can mean lots of different things, depending on its context, including:”to communicate,” “to allow,” “to pass,” “to pass through.”

To pass through. You have to imagine some force that comes at you, but doesn’t stop at your face. It roars and enters your chest, goes clean through you and leaves a hole of itself behind; viscerally, and potentially painfully, changes you. Like a good book, a soul-drenching song, a good conversation that accomplishes true communion, touching each other’s fingertips through the complicated and goopy membranes of our selves – all of these things are forms of communication, and all of these things have the potential to blow a hole through you, changing you in an indelible, yet sometimes very delicate, way.

In this construct, the world takes on a sheen of exhilaration in all its mundanity. Every book you pick up could punch you in the gut. Every trip to the theater could leave you in tears, every conversation could slice right through and leave a hole you didn’t have before you got all involved. Literally any experience changes you to be a little less intact, a little more interesting. Having lived – truly lived – would mean to have all the scars and tattery bullet hole reminders of the experiences that went through you and changed you for the ever.

This makes me wonder if this Jewish-American writer knows Korean:

“When at last I came upon the right book, the feeling was violent: it blew open a hole in me that made life more dangerous because I couldn’t control what came through it.”
― Nicole KraussGreat House

Sounds terrifying, but that’s actually what we’re all looking for, all our lives. To meet people, to hold conversations, to connect in ways that explode a little bit of our integrity as whole human beings, so that the same things may flow through the community of a new “us,” brought together by our collection of common blood and bone. A gory aftermath of a skeleton structure that builds – that melds – us together in new joints of true communion. Through our similar-shaped holes, the same winds, the same salty currents, the same jolts of electricity, with all our tears and our laughters, will rush through us in the same ways, connecting us in this crazy web of constantly moving bits flowing through from the world outside. Understand me! we cry out. Connect with me, know me, come close to me, pass through me.

The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. That life’s true fruit lies hidden in its struggles; the growth is in the grit; it is the rain that will strengthen your soul… all of that.

the cuteness is also in the struggle
the cuteness is also in the struggle