Aging Traditions of Life and the Predominant Desire to Grow Older

As a boy I was fascinated with Peter Pan. I always told my mother that I would never grow up. My girlfriend seems to think that I kept my word on that one, and I can’t help but smile at the compliment.

At 24, a father working a full time job with a mortgage in a town where I didn’t know a single soul, I longed to revisit my college years, make more drastic decisions, date different girls, do different drugs. As a 21 year old in college I daydreamed through classes wishing I could be a teenager again, short on responsibility and high on youthful optimistic aggression. At 13, pussing with zits and pondering my own hairstyle perhaps for the first time, I was desperate to get back to 8 years old, swinging sticks for swords and running through countless hours of the day any which way I pleased.

As an 8 year old I had few friends, was constantly ridiculed at school and had this sinking feeling that the girl I had a crush on would never be my wife. It was very serious, as I remember, very serious.

I watch my own son now, 5 years old, beginning to long to grow up, thinking that being a grown up means you can do whatever you want, that being a teenager means having some sort of freedom from space and time and the responsibilities of reality that they afford. It’s a dangerous presumption, because unlike most goals where you expect there to be a shiny reward at the end, you grow up only to find that you’ve wasted the freedom of youth on a dream, and waking up is as hard as a Monday morning hangover for a ditch digging job.

Aside from the obvious “child wants to grow up” syndrome that I see in the world, there is another progressive-aging disorder that I’m noticing – obsessively looking toward the future. Always in waiting, “I can’t wait until we go there” “I can’t wait until I get that” “I can’t wait for Friday” and so on, rushing through seconds and minutes thinking about other seconds and minutes that we haven’t yet had the chance to rush through.

But is having something to look forward to more or less important than having something to do now? And where does nostalgia and reminiscing fall in? Is there any time period that doesn’t have a purpose?

I’ll let you know tomorrow after I’ve had some time to think back on it.

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