Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Childhood's End

"You set sail across the sea
of long past thoughts and memories

childhood's end your fantasies
merge with harsh realities

and then as the sail is hoist
you find your eyes are growing moist

and all the fears never voiced
say you have to make the final choice
"


(D. Gilmour)

APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE FOR THIS EXTENDED RANT.  PLEASE INDULGE ME.  AFTER ALL, THIS WHOLE PROJECT WAS STARTED FOR RANTS LIKE THIS. 

AND BESIDES, IT HAS TO BEAT ME WHINING ABOUT MY PNEUMONIA....

Time on your hands allows for a serious amount of...stuff.  Reading, watching TV, listening to music - lord knows everyone has their preferred method for killing large amounts of time.

The last few weeks, since finals ended and I got sick, have left me with more time than I know what to do with.  I've caught up on TV shows and movies, I've read.  I've actually written emails to a number of people I've lost touch with in the last six months to a year.  These are all good things (assuming you count TV and movies as a "good thing").

But there has also been a lot of time left over for something else. 

Thinking.

Thinking is a funny thing.  It can be very good or very bad.  Positive or negative.  Useful or destructive. 

Thinking also has a flip side - Overthinking.  This phenomenon occurs when you spend so much time thinking about an issue - you turn it over in your head over and over - until eventually it becomes a WORRY.  My mind is especially vulnerable to the Curse of the Overthink.

I was thinking about this because my next birthday will be the BIG TWO-ONE.  You know, legal drinking age and all that.  The last vestiges of being a child will be over. 

Which begs the question (or at least begged the question for me).  When does someone stop being a child and become an adult?  Is it 18?  21?  Legal definitions aside, what is the real time for the transition?

The truth is, there is no one size fits all answer.  My older sister is still a child.  The fact that she has a child is beyond me - shit, she can barely get through her day without calling my mother 17 times for advice. 

But we have all seen or heard stories about young kids who, due to circumstances, were forced to make very adult-like decisions or grow up fast.  Would anyone argue that the televised interviews done by Tamar Fogel after the murder of her family in Israel weren't extremely adult in nature? 

Why do I care?  Because I overthink.  Am I an adult?  I like to think of myself as adult.  If so, when did I become an adult?  Was it the first time I realized that I am on my own?  That, for whatever reasons, I couldn't rely on my family to help me?  Was it the first time I used drugs?  Or drank?  Or gave myself away?  Did these actions make me an "adult"?  Or did they simply make me a bigger child?

But the truth is, it was not these actions which made me an adult.  Nor was it the realization that I had no one to rely on but myself.  Rather it was my reaction to these things.  

I could still be doing all "the bad things" I did for most of my life.  There is a fine line between salvation and damnation.  But once you make the realization (alone or with help), you have two choices:  You can blame the world for your troubles and sink deeper.  Or you can take responsibility for your actions and rise up.

Isn't that really what being an adult means?  Taking responsibility? For no longer relying on everyone else to do everything for you.  To clean up your messes? 

I chose to stop.  I stopped taking drugs.  I stopped giving myself away (well, at least to people I didn't really know or who didn't really care about me).  I made a decision to try and rise above it.  And really, all you can do is try.  Sometimes you succeed.  Other times you fail. 

I spent a long time these past few weeks looking back at my childhood.  It truly was a horrific mess.  You know you are messed up when someone else asks you "have you ever done X?" (which is a pretty wild thing to have done by social standards, lets say) and you say, "well I've been TOLD I've done X but I don't remember actually doing it" - which I add to my claim to fame. 

Am I embarrassed by my past?  I guess a little, but not nearly as much as others are of me.  Am I proud of it?  No.  But I'm extremely proud of what I am becoming  - especially in relation to what I could have been.  As little as four years ago I was a complete waste of existence - barely floating through school, drinking and smoking shit, all the while treating my body like it was a best-seller at the public library. 

I eventually got to be such a potential embarrassment for my family that my parents basically told me to fix myself or get out.  Believe me, I could have said goodbye to them forever without ever looking back.  I could have had guys lining up to provide me with basic shelter necessities (ie a roof, some food, alcohol and dope) in exchange for fixing their basic necessities.  But instead I looked at myself - maybe for the first time.  And while maybe I didn't admit it then, I realized was in trouble.  And I needed to grow up.

So I made perhaps my first adult decision - I decided I needed help. 

And my road to adulthood began.

3 comments:

  1. When you have a lot of responsibilities then you're an adult. Though I fail to see the importance of determining who is an who isn't. That's that overthinking again :) But then I'm almost twice your age... Maybe it matters when you're younger.

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  2. i TOLD you it's that damned overthink gene!

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  3. i believe scientifically the brain stops connecting neuron pathways at about 25, so technically its not 18 or 21. insurance companies have known this for years as rates for drivers drop drastically when one turns 25

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