Heavy & Hopeful

I am a hopeless, unrepentant metalhead. The sound of crushing guitars and pummeling drums makes me lose myself in a way that Eminem could never understand. What it comes down to is I think heavy metal is the most majestic form of music. While some people appreciate the more delicate elements of creation like flowers and butterflies, I prefer the powerful things: thunderstorms, crashing ocean waves, and skyscraping mountains and trees. And I just don't think that Chris Tomlin does a good job capturing those things musically.

But this is not how most people see heavy metal. They see a bunch of angry, defiant, pierced and painted teenagers fighting the "man" and just fighting each other. In short, they see metal as childish. And this is forgivable as kids will be kids. But nothing seems to draw more scorn from the upper crust of American society than a man over thirty with long hair, dangling chains, and an In Flames t-shirt. Eventually, you're expected to grow out of that.

photo credit: Julie, Dave & Family
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So what does it mean to "grow up?" Well, I don't wear my underwear over my pants anymore. I got a haircut. I watch what I eat. A little. I can admit there's a natural progression to life, and certain things are inevitably left behind in childhood. But I think we often leave behind the wrong things.

This time of year, many kids wait in the long lines at malls to sit on Santa's lap so that they can tell him what they want for Christmas. And their hearts are just innocent enough to believe that their hopes and dreams might come true. It makes for cute pictures in the family photo album, but nothing more.

Because such wanton sentiments are not fitting for adults. You can hope you close on the house you want, but such is pointless. Either you will or you won't. You can hope to get the promotion you want, but again, either you will or you won't. Hope is for children; realism is for adults. C. S. Lewis recognized this. And I think that's precisely why the children in his stories got too old for Narnia. So I wonder, if this is what growing up looks like, is this really what we want?

Look again at the adult's reaction to hope. We pretend to avoid it until it's satisfied. And then, when our expectations come through, we breathe that heavy sigh and think, "I was hoping for that." But when hope lets us down (or when our expectations aren't met) we bury it. The hope becomes trivial and childish and we ridicule ourselves for the stupidity of entertaining it. It makes you wonder if our expectations are what's unrealistic. Or maybe we're still just scared little children after all, living in fear of being disappointed.

Hope is a risk. And risks require courage--a very mature attribute. We do need to be mindful of our expectations, but we can't deny them either. Don't be afraid of your desire to want something good, and don't be afraid if that desire goes unsatisfied. Unless you think that the bravest thing is to hide your feelings and choke those innocent, youthful sentiments. Because if that's what it means to "grow up," then I hope I'm still listening to heavy metal when I'm eighty.