One of the hardest things about life is growing up....or at least it is for me. In some ways I feel like I've been a grown-up forever but in other ways I can look back at my life and realize I was a child for far longer than I knew. It makes me wonder if this is true for everyone or is everyone's experience of 'growing up' different?
What makes us think that growing up is the best way anyway? Maybe it really is better to go through life jumping in puddles and catching snow flakes on your tongue. You've never seen a stressed out person jumping in puddles have you? And I'll bet someone that goes out in a gentle snowfall and tries to catch snowflakes on their tongue isn't secretly worried about the stock market either. And here's another thought while I'm at it. When do we stop doing these things? The fun stuff, not the stressed out crap...that seems to stick around forever. When do we stop jumping in puddles and spinning in circles with our arms out making ourselves dizzy and laughing? Maybe more importantly why do we stop it? You're probably thinking because we grow up. Well ok...I get that. But who decides when that is? Who decides it's time for us to grow up? For that matter how do we know when we are grown up? Is it when all the fun dies?
I think now that I coasted through most of my life with no direction and no plan. At every stage of my being I thought I was accomplishing something but in fact I may have just been existing and accomplishing nothing...nothing that mattered in the long run at least. Could this be the reason why I feel like I'm in a race against time now? Like my clock is running out and the ticking is getting louder; at times almost deafening and with it comes a desperate feeling that I need to change direction. I need to accomplish something...and soon. But what direction should I take? What do I need to accomplish? Who the hell am I?? I was asking that question when I was a teenager and I'm wicked surprised ((a word from my teen years) to find I'm still asking the same question. And dammit, nobody is answering it for me!!
Is this a feeling most people get as they age and begin to realize they are running out of time? Is this because I am beginning to realize that eventually I may not be able to physically do a lot of the things I take for granted now? I'm still asking myself (among other things) if I'm normal. And asking myself (without obtaining an answer to the first question) does it matter if I'm normal or not? And who is worthy or qualified to answer either the first or the second question in the first place?
Obviously all this self doubt and worrying about my accomplishments in life are a product of adult thinking. I never had these thoughts when I was a kid. Kids don't worry about falling off that swing at the playground. They just do it. But at some point I began thinking I need to be responsible. I need to do responsible things to get ahead in life. But what was I getting a head of? Who or what is behind me that I needed to get in front of? And aren't they thinking the same thing? Aren't they trying to get ahead of me too? Or are they still spinning in circles and actually enjoying themselves instead of worry and pushing and striving?
I've often wondered why there is no class in school that actually teaches you about the cycles in life. Oh they have Home Economics to teach you how to cook 'food' by following the directions on the back of a box. And maybe you might take a class called Life Studies that skims ever so easily over the deep truths of life and makes it all sound so simple and obviously obtainable. But I'm talking about a class or series of classes that teach you the cycles of life and how they interact with each other; how it all comes full circle eventually and you find yourself in the beginning again if you are lucky or unlucky depending on your view. We need classes that will teach you what it is really like to be a child and how to help children appreciate this time in their lives and really enjoy it....it's so fleeting after all isn't it?
I know they have classes about child development and geriatric studies; what we should be able to do at certain ages and the like. I'm talking about showing them how to enjoy being a child and having no responsibilities. And how about a class that will tell us what it's like to age. How it feels when you are not old yet...or not willing to admit to being old yet...but are older than you were when you went swimming in the very early Spring at your favorite lake and everyone said you were crazy for jumping into that freezing cold water. But you were young then and it was fun. And you surprised the fisherman there for opening day of fishing....and you scared their fish away too. Wouldn't it be nice to have a class that will tell you ahead of time to treasure those silly days when you are young because you won't do it 10 yrs from now? And doesn't it feel unfair that there is no class that teaches us our bodies will start to hurt and what we can do about it or to hold it off as long as possible? Or that maybe our faces will start to age but our hair color hasn't changed yet and your friends all think you dye your hair and you don't, but they won't believe you and it shouldn't matter and most of the time it doesn't. But sometimes it does matter... just a little bit.
I just think it would be nice and make so much more sense to actually have a clue about what is coming up as we age. Somebody should have warned us that eventually you can't complain about old people driving terrible because YOU are the old person driving terrible now. And you can't stay out til the wee hours of the morning 'partying' anymore because it takes you days to recover from that stuff now and in the morning you will go into a panic trying to remember if you took your contacts out the night before or are they still in there somewhere. Where is the class that will tell us that ice skating at 20 is a blast but ice skating at 60 is a painful adventure that will leave you walking funny for days afterward?
Ok....let me put the brakes on here. I've strayed a bit from my entry point it would appear. But in essence what I'm getting at is that none of us have any idea what we are doing from childhood to adulthood to old age to death. We start off just being ourselves and having fun for the sake of fun. We eventually move thru all the cycles of adulthood gaining various amounts of experience and accolades along the way. Until we come to old age...I mean real old age...where it is all catching up to you and you are forced to become more and more dependent on others along the way. At this stage you have hopefully experienced the joy of being a parent and the even greater joy of being a grand parent (all the fun with none of the responsibility and they like the same things you do!). You are no longer dealing with the amount of responsibility you once did and you have time to reflect on what you've done; where you've gone and what it was all about. Now hopefully once again you can allow yourself to do what makes you feel good for the sake of feeling good. You no longer feel the push and pull of accomplishment and perhaps don't even question life at all. You are closer to being a child again than you will ever be and no one bothered to tell you this is how it goes.