Our childhoods, our adolescence, pretty much the same. The same in spite of our differences, in spite of our different circumstances. The wildness, the freedom, the curiosity, the absence of fear of failure. We lived in the same cage, we wore a single key in the pockets of our leaky, old trousers. A key that opened the door to a shared presence. Then, suddenly things changed. For someone radically, drastically. For someone, not so much. Either way, each of us was involved.
We learned how to write, how to talk, how to walk, how to manipulate. We learned how to ride a bike, we learned how to ski down a steep hill without breaking bones, without falling. We learned how to embrace a stranger’s tongue. We learned how to reverse a car without an accident. We completed the education often required by parents.
Adulthood. We stepped into adulthood by finishing our education. As children we longed for one day when we could be adults we would finally be able to do what we wanted to do, not what other people wanted us to do. The world will belong to me. No one will control me, no one will give me orders, commands. Laughter. It’s funny because for many of us, adulthood is, not the beginning of life, but the end of life. It’s no longer about one cage, one key. One group carrying one key in their pocket unlocking access to one cage. Another group carrying in a leaky pocket a second key unlocking access to the other cage. One group has no understanding of the other group and the other group has no understanding of the other group. Me? I’m somewhere in between. Actually, it’s more like I’m in the third group. They both don’t quite have an understanding for me.
1. Diploma from school, proof I’m smart, I’m clever, I’m valuable. After this life milestone only a few life goals. Their number, less than or equal to the number of fingers on one hand. A goal to buy a car of my own. A goal to get a stable job without risk. A goal to find a soulmate and get married. The goal of taking out a mortgage and buying a roof of your own. The goal of having and raising children. Then after that success, their life their journey came to an end. Of course the journey may have different stops, a vacation with family by the sea. Holidays with family in the mountains. Holidays lying on the couch in front of the television. The end. At a young age, at a time when they could fly like birds they built a dam like a beaver in a nearby lake. They settled down. They settled without recognizing themselves, their limits, their new better, stronger, more experienced selves. But they are happy, satisfied. Because they have everything. Everything their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors have. A job, a house, a car, a family. Pictures from family trips.
2. A diploma from school, a reminder I’m free, I’m free from obligations to be responsible to others, I’m patient enough to go my own way. After this life milestone a multitude of life goals. A number of them, greater, or even greater than the number of prickles on a single hedgehog with an apple on top. The goal is to gain as much life experience as possible by travelling the world, working in different companies in different jobs, doing business in different commodities, finding and trying new hobbies, meeting new people, attending different events. The goal is to build a successful business. Goal to paint a picture and get it into an international art exhibition. Goal to remodel an old diesel van to travel the coast and learn to surf. GOAL to raise money for a local shelter overcrowded with cats from neighboring villages. The goal to fight on enemy lines in order to protect brothers in harm’s way. Goal to write a movie script and shoot it with a group of outsiders. Goal to run the Boston Marathon in record time.
Sometimes it’s lonely, sometimes it’s black and white. Because for as much as I, we, in the second group work, suffer the pleasurable pain, climb up, fall down, the first group celebrates success with immediate reward. Wedding, Buying a car, Moving into new rooms, Vacation, Celebrating little things like the weekend. Serial Marathon.
The first group, the period of their youth when they could fly free and high like birds, used it to build dams like beavers on a nearby lake. The second group used their freedom, their liberty, their irresponsibility to others for a mission in which they formed a new, better, more experienced, wiser version of themselves. They tried, they did, they said all that their hearts longed to accomplish, they brought light into all the dark corners of the world where it beckoned them to come and taste it. They have invested in curiosity, in growth, in discomfort thanks to which their mornings are fresh, full of smiles, because they know that during the day nothing will surprise them, nothing will frighten them, nothing will break them. Their nights are calm, peaceful because there is no regret, no remorse, no lies. They have done, said, seen, heard everything they wanted, everything they desired. Through flying they have discovered who they are, what they want, who they want to have in their lives, who they don’t want in their lives, who they don’t want around them, what is important and what is not.
Then, after this perhaps somewhat selfish but important adventure, they finally settle down, start families, strong communities …
I mean, it’s worth it. Postpone those commitments, give it time, don’t rush anywhere. It’s a win-win. For us, our partners and our children. Because it’s sad to see kids have kids.