15 July 2015

56 – Be A Kid Again

We all did the same assignment in school. Probably more than once. And it always got framed as a simple question:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That’s actually a tough question for most people to answer. But it’s the kind of question a kid will go for. Answers to tough questions need both imagination and creativity. And kids are bursting at the seams with both.

I know I was. And I know I did that assignment several times between elementary and high school. Bob@8 wanted to become a paleontologist. He also had to explain what a paleontologist did to the teacher. Bob@10 wanted to become a marine biologist and study whales. Bob@11 dreamt of becoming a hockey player with the Boston Bruins. Bob@14 dreamt of becoming a basketball player with the New York Knicks. And Bob@16 planned to become an architect.

In the meantime, being a kid kept me busy. Myself and my friends spent countless hours wandering through the woods and along the shoreline. We played hockey, baseball or basketball every chance we could get. And I filled countless notebooks with drawings and stories. I did a pretty good job being a kid.

Then I stopped being a kid. I finished high school and decided to grow up and become an Adult. I went to university, worked to pay for it, and focussed on getting a Career. I decided I needed to stop being a kid in order to achieve Success. Perhaps you did the same thing as well.

Eventually I reached a point where being an Adult pursuing a Career left me miserable. I wasn't doing anything I enjoyed or cared about. And I no longer knew who I was. I won’t go into detail. I've talked about it plenty here, here, and here.

The point is this: we often lose genuine parts of ourselves in growing up to become Adults. We often stop doing those things we enjoyed as kids. We stop having foolish fun. We stop being active. We stop being curious and creative. In becoming Adults we often become strangers to ourselves. And that’s kind of sad really. Because you know what we were all told about strangers when we were kids.

There’s no shame in admitting this. It’s what The World tells us we’re supposed to do. According to The World we need to grow up and pursue a Career once we’re equipped with a diploma and some pubic hair. The World tells us we need to stop being curious and asking questions. It tells us we need to settle down and sit down. It tells us we need to stop kidding and get serious. According to The World, abandoning childhood for Adulthood is the only road to achieving Success.

Schools, colleges, and companies pound this into our heads. They promote themselves as places where people can amplify their best features and truly be themselves. But they’re often little more than assembly lines for turning people into Independent Career Adults who’ll conform with The World’s status quo. Schools, colleges, and companies train us to follow instructions, obey orders, and believe what we’re told. They train us to accept our lot in life and simply take the hot air, white noise, and bullshit that The World rams down our throats every day.

That’s bullshit, says I. It’s no good, it’s stupid, and it’s wrong.

Think about it: a tree needs to remain connected to its roots in order to keep growing. It withers and dies otherwise. We’re no different than trees. We need to remain connected to our own roots in order to live and grow properly. We can only grow up into decent, whole adults after being kids first. We need to remain connected to the kids we were to become the best adults we can be.

Time flies even when you don’t buy a ticket for the flight. I'm not a kid anymore. But I'm not the Adult The World wants me to be either. I've replaced playing sports with strength-training and yoga. I've found new woods and new shores to explore and take pictures of. The pictures I draw often become weekend carpentry projects. I've filled out a stack of notebooks with rough drafts of two novels. I'm not a stranger to myself anymore.

I believe happiness is the most genuine sign of success. And when I was a kid I was happy. As an adult, I'm happiest whenever I make time to be a kid again. And I do that as often as I can.

Becoming an Adult isn't allowing me to achieve success. Becoming a kid again is.

Now don’t get me wrong. I'm not saying we should stop giving a shit about our adult responsibilities. That’d turn life into a pure cluster-fuck. I've got bills. I pay them too. I can’t simply quit my job and do whatever the fuck I want whenever the fuck I please. Some degree of adult maturity is required when we get out of bed every morning to be in life.

Gunney Highway: happy to define cluster-fuck for you.

And that’s the point really. As adults we've got a great opportunity to be even better kids. We can behave responsibly and maturely when life requires it. But then we can flip the switch and have childlike fun once those responsibilities are dealt with. In other words, we shouldn't abandon childhood for adulthood. The goal should be to strike a healthy balance between the two instead.

In this case, being an adult actually helps. Part of growing up is realizing time doesn't slow down and stop for us in moments of pure joy and bliss. And knowing that time stops for no moment, no one, and no thing can allow us to appreciate the fun we do have in a way we never could've when we were kids.

Becoming a kid again is absolutely necessary. And it’s absolutely possible. If you don’t believe me, the true American rock n’ roll band just bid fare thee well after fifty years of musical fun. And despite the touch of grey that came with reaching the attics of their lives they kept throwing musical curveballs at The World as the four winds blew them safely home. And they left millions of adults grateful for that long, strange trip. Consider the previous four video links evidence. End of story.

The Dead end. The music lives. 

Sometimes I imagine a teacher giving me that assignment once more. Because now I know exactly and without hesitation what I really want to be when I grow up.

When I grow up I want to be a kid again.

Though sometimes I still imagine being a marine biologist. What can I say? It’d be fascinating to walk a mile in George’s shoes

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