Back when I was a kid – and dear $DEITY that feels so wrong because while the calendar says I’m over 50 and the body says I’m over 50 what’s inside doesn’t seem anything like that far gone – I thought it had to be good to be an adult. You didn’t have all those restrictions on what you were allowed to do.
Yeah, I can hear the laughing. I guess I was pretty typical kid on that front, not noticing the responsibilities that went along with those extra freedoms.
The other thing I missed isn’t quite so obvious: I would swear that as you get older time moves faster. I remember long, endless summers, and days at school that seemed to last forever. Now, the days are a kind of blur where the week ends and I’ve barely started to wake up again before it’s Monday and I’m back into the routine of rolling out of bed when the alarm goes off, spending the day in the usual mix of work, eat, sleep, then it’s rinse and repeat for the rest of the week.
I really want to know who is stealing my time and where can I find the sorry son of a mangy goat (I can go on like this for a long time and if I’m really on song, I can do it without once using what’s officially known as ‘bad language’. I’m told I rather startled the last person who was present when I did this).
So yeah. Time is flexible. The way kids think isn’t the way adults think (more’s the pity. I’d rather have the kid perspective, thanks, when all the good stuff was definitely going to happen to me in time). In other news, water is wet, and politicians are morons. Highly educated morons, certainly, but morons nonetheless. The selection process weeds out the truly smart ones (they take one look and decide they aren’t interested in politics after all).
The thing is, back when I was a kid, I thought I knew it all. Or at least a reasonable percentage of it. And as the saying goes, “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you, it’s what you know that ain’t so.” Truly becoming an adult includes realizing that an awful lot of the things a person is certain about as a kid are actually not that certain after all. And may even be wrong.
Learning this requires a certain amount of suffering. The same way a baby will never learn to walk if it’s picked up and carried everywhere so it doesn’t hurt itself falling over, if a kid gets protected from the pain that comes with discovering that life is unfair, unjust, and often an outright bitch, they don’t grow up to be an adult. They just become an adult-sized kid.
This little fact of life is one of the reasons coming of age in its various forms is such a popular thing in our genres. Star Wars – the original trilogy – has the coming of age as a big part of the underlying material. It’s kind of satisfying to experience the traumas of growing up at one remove: you can sympathize with the poor sod having his, her, or its life turned inside out while you keep the reassurance that it’s not your life being turned on its ear for the amusement of some deity or other.
Plus, if you read between the lines, you just might pick up a lesson or two.
Oh, who am I kidding. In half of them the lesson smacks you between the eyes, gives you a wedgie, and yells “neener neener neener” at you. And that’s the ones where the author isn’t telling you what the moral of the story is (oh dear $DEITY I hated those stories. I don’t want to be told what the moral is. I want to find my own bloody moral and it just might be something that you didn’t think you put in that story because words can have many meanings and so can actions and we all interpret both through our own experiences thank you very much… I appear to have been ambushed by a random soapbox. Sorry).
The point being, if this half-asleep ramble can be said to have one, that experience always teaches, but reading about other experiences, whether factual or not, can teach if you’re willing to learn. And being willing to learn can clear up a hell of a lot of misapprehensions, which in turn makes the life of adults rather easer.
And most sensible adults would much prefer an easier life – as long as they can have it without losing their souls.