Stunted Growth and Getting Unstunted

When you can’t travel long distances, sometimes you take yourself through a movie and  that can be your journey. One that is so good that you might even choose to repeat it over and over. And over. It may become a ritual or you might even throw parties in honor of the characters and so on because they make life better for you or maybe they just remind you of how epic life can be.

The Cohen brothers had it right with The Big Lebowski. The dude is right on; however, comparing him to others might be a stretch for you, but bear with me.

Did you see Oprah playing “Sophia” in The Color Purple? Regardless of anything else that she does, Oprah is a champion for that achievement alone. That book is one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever written by a woman, and for the movie to also become one of the best movie adaptations ever made must make it a record of some sort. Those characters will never be beat, at least not from that particular era.

Maybe it isn’t a cinematic achievement like The Color Purple, but for me,  The Dude in The Big Lebowski is one of the all time best characters ever created by movie people. While it’s true that it is comedic in nature, you can put him next to the best dramatic villain or female lead in Hollywood-he still wins in my world. I remember when I saw The Shawshank Redemption for the first time and while Andy DuFresne is Super Human, and represents so many levels of what we all wish we could be just for one hour a day, I would still pick the dude over him. I’d pick him over Sophia too.

Why? Why do I bow down to one of the most disgusting, lazy, and selfish characters in cinema? You don’t have to like The Dude, but certainly, you must consider his philosophy (***warning: The Dude LOVES profanity):

“Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.”

“F*ck sympathy! I don’t need your f*ckin’ sympathy, man, I need my f*cking johnson!”

“Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!”

“She’s not my special lady, she’s my f*cking lady friend. I’m just helping her conceive, man!”

“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

“Mind if I do a J?”

“Yeah, well. The Dude abides.”

“I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.”

Here’s the deal: if I could wake up, drink White Russians all day, wear a robe wherever I went, be disgusting, be o.k. with being disgusting, take bowling as serious as my job, be a satisfied bum, fall on my sword for each belief, and still attract the opposite gender, or at least have some version of that combination, I’d feel like I had it right on a daily basis. I’d pretty much scream satisfaction, especially if I tossed in some travel on occasion! Being like The Dude means that you live to get what you need; you get up and you do what you want to do, you don’t really care what anyone thinks, and generally, you don’t care for others.

The Dude-he’s an asshole, yes. But, because he is so forthcoming about it, you have to like him. At least I have to; I have to love him and respect him. The Dude screams this: Stop taking life so seriously. Take it easy.

There’s just one problem: I do care about others. And of course, when that happens, you do consider what those people think, at least when it comes to the important stuff.

A certain portion of The Dude is in many people: he’s that guy at the gas station that takes up two spaces for his gas-guzzling-small-penis-syndrome-truck. He’s also the guy in line at the grocery store in his grungy sweat pants, holding a six pack of Budweiser, a cheap brand of cigars, and has a shit-eating grin on his face. He’s you in the moment you need to be completely and utterly without responsibility-whatever picture that looks like. He’s the girl in the bathroom that is puking drama to her girlfriend about this guy she is using. It goes on, but truly, I’m just not sure I’ve ever really met a full on version of  The Dude. I’ve never gotten to know one-someone who isn’t stupid, but doesn’t really care about his/her surroundings one way or the other; someone who is just living to get what they need out of it. I think all of us have those get-what-you-need sort of days, but nothing like the level of The Dude.

Part of me is a total shitshow and she simply won’t die. She loves wearing costumes. She loves drinking. She loves being in skivvies all day long. She loves being sweaty and smelly. It’s like college dorm days all over again. I’m sure that many of you out there also have this sort of raging version of you inside that you continue to nourish with whatever feeds it because life must be about our stunted growth when we need it to be while others out there are wondering where that side of life went. Funny how our stunted growth days….or chapters….or weeks are usually connected to the get-what-you-need mentality, but truly, there is nothing wrong with that.

I’m ok with my stunted growth, and more importantly, I’m learning how to marry it with getting unstunted. Neither side reigns over the other because I won’t let it. I use to think that eventually, my stunted growth would cease, and that the rest of me would move on, but I’ve come to understand that neither side wins nor will either side die. The part of you that wins is the part of you that you nourish in that moment.  I think The Dude would abide by this philosophy.

It seems that around me, my people are also beginning to unstunt themselves using a variety of methods. After all, we are suppose to; The Dude doesn’t want to reproduce for a reason. But, I can’t help think that everyone needs to have a solid stunted growth, one that they treat with the same passion as the rest of their being. I hope that for all of us, but I fear that most of us get trapped in the hustle and expectations of the unstunted portion of our lives.

I have a lengthy list on movies, and in order to make that list, they must have given me a journey. I have a ritual of watching The Big Lebowski every year, at least once and with each view, I laugh constantly, and am reminded of the beauty behind stunted growth.

Its spirit lives and plays! I hope yours is doing the same.

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