The Big Think

August 26, 2005

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Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 10:22 pm

We had Giles and Jennifer and their 15 month old daughter Sarah over for dinner tonight. Has it really been two years since we’ve had you guys over? It was fun catching up with them and watching Sarah discover all the new things to play with in a fresh location. It was particularly funny to watch her reaction to my patient fish. She’d walk up to the tank, offer him her bottle, then attempt to have a stare-out with the little guy. She’d invariably lose, but she’d do so with style and humor: having a sort of laughing conniption fit as she ran and tossed herself at the nearest adult. It was also funny to watch her freak out at my remote controlled truck. At first she cried out and grabbed my leg in fear, but after a few minutes of us petting the truck (mental picture: one scared kid and four adults saying “nice trucky, trucky”), she seemed to groc that it wasn’t going to hurt her.

Can’t really blame her for being a bit freaked out, though. I mean, small plastic toys are not supposed to move around the room. And they’re especially not supposed to move with any sort of autonomy. It was interesting to see her push the remote controller, see the truck move, and almost put two and two together. A few more months and I’m sure she’ll be steering the Robomower. Then it’s off to the races as a child of the new millennium.

But what really sparked this post was this quote from Barry (italics mine):

Who said that adulthood equals responsibility and childhood is carefree? Don’t you remember being a child, and the relentless responsibility of becoming a citizen of humanity and of this civilization? It was a blast, but it was at times the opposite of play. No more: we adults are free to roam in the world now, our education finally begun

He’s right. I can clearly remember how sucky it was being a kid sometimes. Yes, I remember and miss the carefree disconnection of complete play (something that I try and keep in my life now), but I also remember how hard it was to suss out the unwritten rules of adulthood. To do something that made no sense just because an adult said so. To “act my age” when I was, in fact, only 9 or 10 years old (sidenote: isn’t it ironic that what adults mean when they say “act your age” is, in fact, the opposite of what that sentence says?”). Mostly I just remember thinking how great life would be when I grew up.

Obviously now that time has come. There have been many milestones in my life when I’ve felt “okay, I finally feel like a grownup”: seeing someone become famous who was born the same year as me. Watching friends die. Graduating from College. Getting married. Being heavily responsible for someone’s immediate physical safety (rock climbing/white water guiding will grow you up quick). No longer being able to check the “18-34” age box on paperwork (Hey wait! I’m out of the “most desired demographic”?!?). That, oddly, was a big one for me. I’ve recently found a few white hairs in my beard, and seen traces of grey in friends’ hair. It doesn’t freak me out at all, but it does reinforce what Patrick Stewart said in an interview. Talking about when his parents died, he said that (paraphrased), no matter how old we become, we never really get over the feeling of “who’s going to take care of me?”

So we grow up. Circle of life. Yadda yadda. The question that I always try and come back to is this: now that we have the run of the joint, now that nobody tells us when to come home, who our friends can be, or that we have to finish our veggies before dessert, what do we do with it? Too often we settle into jobs, stop learning, and finally give up all that “kid stuff”. We become…(shudder)… responsible (see: boring)

If anything, adulthood gives us more opportunity to be kids. You finally have the resources, the time, the maturity to follow the paths that interest you. Not just the well-worn road some high-school curriculum director thinks you should walk. Ever wanted to learn to cook Asian? How about taking a trip to China for lessons? Want to fly? It’s really not that hard, and an intro lesson is only thirty five bucks. Does photography float your boat? Digital cameras are cheap now, and film development is as easy as hitting “import”. Love to paint? Grab your brushes and go. If you need a place to start, the fact that you’re reading this means you have access to the grandest library in the universe.

Somewhere there’s a 90-year-old who wishes she had your energy, or your health, or your income (whatever that may be). She’d trade places with you in one beat of her tired heart.

As for me, I’m keeping my radio controlled car. And my workshop. And my pilot’s license. And my fishtank and backpack, too. I’m going to keep saying “wow” when things are cool. I’m going to keep saying cool when things are cool, and I’ll probably still be doing it when I’m wearing black socks with my shorts. And I most certainly am not going to stop learning new stuff. Because in the end (which comes too quickly anyway), life really is too short to grow up.

Sarah and Fish2.jpg

1 Comment »

  1. Great thoughts, and a singularly appropriate photo to go with them.

    Thanks, Jason.

    Comment by Sean — August 27, 2005 @ 6:16 am

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