When I was a kid, I believed my parents had the answers to everything. I remember looking up to the adults in my life thinking they had it all figured out and they had the freedom to do anything they want. They seemed infallible and invincible. They were mature, wise, smart, and regal. There was a time when I figured I would have all of that for myself as soon I was all grown up.
Man, oh man, was I ever stupid!
When I was young, I rarely ever had a real care in the world. And even when I did, I always found comfort in the idea that my parents would be there to help me through whatever. They always seemed to know how to face any problem, challenge, or crisis without breaking so much as a sweat. The older I get though, the more I become aware that this is nothing more than a childhood fantasy. Here I am at age 37, and I’m no closer to realizing the truths of the universe than I was 20 years ago…or even 30 years ago in some cases. The reality is, they made it all up. And when I said I took comfort in the idea….well, that’s all it ever was – an idea.
As I got older, I started growing more and more aware of what was going on in the world. You begin to learn about the big picture, and you read articles on economics, politics, policies, and trade; all the things you think you should know to help you prepare for the future. Who’s arguing with who? Which war are they fighting now? It goes on and on. Suddenly, before you know it, you’re reading a whole host of insane headlines that leave you scratching your head in confusion.
“Two Elderly Men Sneak Out Of Nursing Home To Attend Metal Festival”
“69-Year-Old Dutch Man Attempts To Legally Lower His Age To 49”
“Spanish Man Builds 60-Foot Spaceship To Visit Planet From His Novels”
“American Airlines Removes Passenger Who Won’t Stop Doing Pull-Ups”
And who can forget…
“Florida Man Who Tried to ‘Run’ to Bermuda in Inflatable Bubble Rescued by Coast Guard, Again”
There are so many more I could list, but I think you get the idea. Now the world is starting to seem a little more clueless.
Are these really the same type of people I looked up to? The same ones with all of the answers?! While I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that these people are not my parents, the reality is that these people are most likely parents to someone else. Let that sink in for a moment.
And just to clarify, no, my parents are not the same type of people that would lose their life savings at a carnival and win a stuffed banana with dreadlocks (yes, that’s another real headline). At best, their headline might read:
“Married Couple Can’t Decide What’s For Dinner”
As I got older still, I entered the workforce and was suddenly surrounded by people of all ages, most of them older than myself. One of the first big jobs I took was working in the maintenance department of an office building. I was ultimately responsible for the general upkeep of the building and to coordinate repairs when necessary. I had a desk, a computer, and a phone. I clearly remember feeling like I had finally made it to “adulthood.” Yes indeed! I was ready to ditch the kids’ table at Thanksgiving and join the big boys and girls while having adult discussions. All the things mature people do. That all came crashing down one day at work when I was filling a work order in one office to install some shelving. I didn’t pay much attention to the conversation in that office as I believed it had to be some sort of private meeting, and the employees were working on some big business deal. You know… as adults do. That is until one of the women in the room gasped aloud and exclaimed to the whole group, “she saw his eyes, and that’s when I knew it was Jacob!”
I. Kid. You. Not.
Here, in broad daylight, during working hours, not on a break, were four women and two men in their mid to late forties discussing teen fiction as part of a book club. One of them was a manager. Their questionable taste in literature aside, I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an eye-opener this was for me. And I won’t even mention what one of the other women said about Edward…
Adults have no idea what they’re doing. Once upon a time, they were children as well, and they may have looked at their parents or any of the other adults they grew up with that same look. They stumble through life as best they can (whatever that means to Florida man, I have no idea). They learn their lessons. They make decisions. They pay taxes and vote. They may have children, and they do their best to care for them. But, deep down, they are still children.
There is no magical formula that makes you all grown up. There is no secret for instant wisdom. Sometimes, that means being lost in the woods and forced to find your way. And while you have freedom of choice, you’re still not free to do what you want. They are not the same thing. I have an overwhelming amount of respect for my parents and how they somehow managed to make it look easy, even when I know it wasn’t.
The truth is, adults are simply children who live in big bodies and have more experience at trying to figure life out.
And Lord help me, I’m one of them.