We were all young once, I thought, staring at the picture of a little girl, sitting all by herself on an empty swing in a playground. Where does it all go away? Why?
Growing up is a lonely process
Other people cannot do the growing up for you. You’re all alone. You have to understand for yourself that the things your parents keep repeating in your ears until you get frustrated. But nothing would make sense to you unless you adopt it for your own, unless you live it, experience and take a few falls and dust your clothes clean and maybe get a bandage or two for your wounds. There might be some scars but you’ll be better off, in the end, with all the lessons. So what is it about growing up that makes it such a big deal after all?
Flickering Dreams and Fading Imagination
When I was little I had a whole bunch of imaginary friends. There were these two little men, one good and the other bad, who were like my personal angel and devil, much before I knew how stereotyped something like that actually was.
I also had a lady friend who had a big hat on and she sold flowers. You know how many children she had? Enough that if she set them down in a queue, they would cover the whole of earth and then keep standing all the way to Saturn’s rings and once there, they would stand on the rings as well.
I guess I always knew my imaginary friends were unreal. But that didn’t make them any less fun to be with.
I also had this other habit. I would take ANYTHING inanimate: glasses, my sketch pens or just numbers and letters and allot them personalities. They would then be characters in a story I would play out in my head. The best thing about this imaginative play time was that even if I was stuck at a boring place without my coloring books or Barbies, I could always find a way to get through it!
The list of make-belief and role-playing games I indulged in is unbelievably long. Perhaps that’s what got me interested in writing in the first place or maybe its the other way around.
The truth is as you grow, things change. Santa Claus and the Truth Fairy aren’t real. Storks don’t drop babies down chimneys.
But also, dreams flicker and change and grow. My brother once wanted to be a dump truck driver because he loved the trucks. I wanted to be a construction worker building a huge skyscraper because the thought of being at that height gave me a scary tingling sensation in my belly. As of now, my brother wants to be a scientist. He is nine. Dreams are still subject to change. But I am twenty one. I need to have fixed goals and aims now. I cannot afford to let my dreams flicker anymore.
Do Away with the Childishness
The best of us are still tempted, at times, to climb onto places or run around like idiots. Or do something childish in some way. I think the reason many adults like getting drunk is because they can no longer be a kid in public unless they have alcohol in their system. While that is kind of sad, if you really think about it, its nobody’s fault.
As adults, we are expected to hide our emotions. We can’t cry at the drop of the hat anymore. We can’t shout out loud in public or tug at ourselves or run around with nothing on! Children are carefree and adults miss that.
And yet, when it comes to things where people really ought to grow up and act like mature adults, they don’t. If only more people were allowed to let out the child inside them, I think we would have fewer fights and bullying and suicides and depression and things of that sort.
Forgiving, forgetting and moving on
Oh if only I could be a child and let change wash over me! As people grow, they become rigid in their ways, fixed in their identity and in their perception of the world around them as well as their understanding of how the world sees them. Thus we are defined for life and very few people can ever rid themselves of this once it starts to set in. Its like the wet cement quote. Children can be moulded but adults cannot.
Children get angry easily but they get over it just as easily. A child doesn’t care about how you look as long as you love him and take care of him. You won’t be judged. That’s why they make everyone smile. Their happiness is real and all-consuming.
I’ve always had a fondness for children and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to witness my brother’s growing up process this way, because I was already eleven when he came along.
I believe you
Trust and faith. As adults we struggle to attain these things and its obvious why.
The longer we stay open in a world that’s cruel and ready to consume us, the more we are prone to hurt.
Many of us learn this lesson the hard way, though a few others catch on early. But all of us do end up becoming suspicious in the end. Which I think is one of the saddest things in the world because I always believe that deep inside, many nice people let hurt, grief and hatred consume them just because they are afraid that opening up will be disastrous. But so much ugliness can be avoided if these things did not consume us so.
I love looking at kids, no matter where I go. Sometimes I smile at them and they smile back, sometimes they just ignore me (which is probably a good thing, they SHOULD learn to be suspicious of strangers because there are plenty of Big Bad Wolves out there) but most of them are sort of oblivious and they go on playing in their own little world which is the most beautiful thing ever. Like the girl on the swing, they have plenty to think about. A lot of it may seem silly or childish to us but hey, what do we know?
Children have untapped energy, the ability to pass on happiness and love and the purity to not realize their value. But there is no evil in a child.
It is sad then, that all children must grow up. This picture just makes me feel a certain loss. I see my childhood in a flash and understand how painful growing up really is, how lonely and unromantic. How unlike everything we imagine it to be when we’re little. But grow up we must.