First one, and then the other

There are, generally speaking, two phases of life. How long each lasts varies on the individual and circumstance, but these two phases and the order in which they come are universal.

During the first phase, one longs for adventure. Predictability is boring, if not oppressive. During this phase the world, as it stands, seems like evidence that previous generations either lacked imagination, or were hopelessly incompetent.

The second phase is the opposite. Experience teaches you, one way or the other, that everything you have might be taken away from you at any time, for no good reason, forever. This is the stage were you’re smart enough to enjoy things you took for granted when you were young, like breakfast. Or going for a walk. Or merely having a reliably affable friend or family member.

At first things can’t change fast enough, and then things change too fast. We spend the first part of our lives looking for a fast forward button, and the second looking for a pause button.

It’s not as though one can’t oscillate a bit. At times when you’re young — if you’re lucky — you cherish the moment and wish things wouldn’t change too fast. And at times when you’re older you get restless or frustrated with aspects of your life, but in general once you enter the second stage you don’t go back.

Perhaps it’s as simple as being restless and greedy when you’re stupid enough to think that you have nothing to lose and are owed more than you’re getting. I don’t think that an unfair description of my first three or four decades.

It’s just as likely, however, that it’s simply the job of the young and restless to stir things up. To question the status quo. To strive to discover some portal to a better existence that your parents missed. Likewise, it’s the job of the mature set to try and maintain some degree stability in an ultimately unpredictable setting if for no other reason than because we know that ultimately our kids are all we’ll leave behind and we want to maximize the chances that they’ll make it to stage two.

Almost every day Ellen expresses, in some way, that she wants time to speed up. She wants to be older and more independent. She still lacks the vocabulary so she just says things like “When I’m big, if I want to use the iPad, I’ll just use the iPad.” But what she’s saying is clear — she’s impatient for this stage of her life to be over. She wishes there was a fast-forward button.

I think I spent my entire childhood wanting it to be over.  I hope she doesn’t make the same mistake, but she seems quite unmoved when I tell her to try and enjoy the here and now. She can’t understand and will likely require decades to understand a father who would hit the pause button a lot, if only he could find it.


Comments are closed.

Post Navigation