The Tulip Poplar
A Lesson Learned in Youth
The day was a scorcher; my hometown isn’t called “Hot-lanta” without reason. Rickey Jones, no relation, was wedged a few branches up in a large tulip poplar. “Edwin,” he said groggily, “I don’t ever want to grow up.” “What are you talking about,” I said in my own midday stupor?
Then Rickey said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard. “Because when people grow up they act stupid.” I carefully collected myself in the face of such weighty thinking. It hit me for the first time with the full force of this profound reality. The grownups I knew had evidently gone through some sort of change when they stopped being children.
My peers in the just-before-teen range were different. It wasn’t just about our not knowing as much or how we lacked in life skills, there was something more significant. We were still holding on to something special.
This was one of those life-changing moments! I made a promise to myself in classic Peter Pan style, “I’m not going to grow up.”
I know some of you who know me are snickering and thinking, “That’s one promise he kept.” I’ll admit adult ways are sometimes not my favorite things. I still believe Rickey made good sense.