Diigo Links

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

21st Birthday Keys

Did you know that in Australia (England, NZ, etc.) it's traditional to give someone a symbolic key when they turn 21?

"The Key is the acknowledged as the emblem of St. Peter, the guardian of the gates of Heaven. Keys with the numbers 21 or 18 attached are symbols of the entry into adulthood. While 21 was originally accepted as the age of majority, when a person was considered mature enough to make adult decisions and was entitled to vote, this has now been lowered to 18 in many countries."

There might also be a Key song, but I couldn't find it on the internet.

You might wonder how I found out about this key exchange. I went to a 21st birthday party over the weekend. I didn't see a key exchanged, but then there were no fathers present. But I think it might be a dying tradition. That's sad. There aren't enough explicit rites of passage still practiced these days. How are we supposed to know when we're all growed up?

I think I'll need a ritual chopping off the head of some sort of chicken to get me into adulthood. I'm not sure why a chicken, but it just seems fitting. Although childhood isn't traditionally symbolized by chicken, it might should be. A bunny rabbit and a chick are traditional symbols of the infancy of Spring. But then there's a change kids take when they get their walkin' legs - from then on they get more and more like chicken (substitute "children" for "chicken" in the following questions):

Who wants 10 chickens living next door? (not most folk)

What are chickens doing when they aren't making noise? (eating or getting into trouble)

What happens when you try to give chicken a bath? (chaos)

Why did the chicken cross the road? (either to get to the other side, or just following older chickens)

So, you see the sacrifice of a chicken is probably in order (to decapitate my inner-child and allow an inner-adult head to grow. Strange sight that would be - an adult head on an inner-child body). I don't think animal sacrifice is allowed inside the city limits, so I think I'm safe for a while. Oh ya, I'm in no hurry to do this. I'm just saying, I think that's what it's going to take to shape my act up - I must commit an act of the arbitrary nature of life.

But if Life is actually arbitrary, why would I be required to commit any act? Can't we just all agree that Life is arbitrary and allow for things to happen, and more than likely something will happen that I can't explain that will help me to "see the light"? Wouldn't it be tempting fate to take axe in hand and create my own rite of passage? And for that matter, isn't it just as contemptible to participate in, and subject people to, the traditional rites we all blindly hold? Maybe there should be no milestones, no markers, no hard stops that are legislated or dictated.

Naw, that's crazy-talk. People have been having birthday parties and circumcisions for a long time - we seem to need that sort of thing. We really cry out when things like birthdays are missed. What is that? Is it genetic, or a consequence of temporal direction?(i.e. you can't get a birthday back once it's missed)

I have more questions than hours left in the day. And with every minute I care less about the answers and more about decreasing the distance between my head and my pillow.

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