I’m having a hard time growing up.
That’s an honest confession.
For the past few years, I’ve noticed a consistent regression in my behavioral patterns and thought processes. (I use the word “regression” loosely, as I have not studied psychology beyond Psych 111 and have no expertise in the subject matter whatsoever.) From childhood to now, I’ve gone from, ‘I know all there is to know about life, how it works and how to do this well…’ to ‘…I don’t know anything, I have no idea what I’m doing and don’t have a clue about what’s going to happen; I can only think about now’. [Okay, first of all, what kid would possibly dare to say such ludicrous statements about figuring life out? I had some nerve… or rather, confidence!] The people closest to me have all noticed and now it’s become a running joke that I’ve regressed to about the age of 11. A lot of it has to do with trying to reclaim the childhood that I tend to think I did not have (partly true, partly false). A part of it is a result of life just being life. Unpredictable and uncontrollable, so I give up!… trying to plan and predict, as most mature adults seem to do so well.
Even in my regression, however, I am often stopped dead in my tracks as life throws curveballs that hit me squarely in the forehead. I shake my head into reality and then know, oh, I must be an adult. Like yesterday, when I found out that my friend, Idilio, who had been battling cancer for months, passed away. News of death seems to be all too common lately, or, rather, more than I want to hear. Actually, having one person die is already one too many. The grief is almost unbearable. The loss is too great.
Death becomes much more real as one gets older. Maybe it’s because we’re all marching towards it, with no exceptions. In my naiveté, I used to say that I’m not afraid of death, so bring it on. I’m still not sure if I’m afraid of it now, but I am not approaching it with such boldness. I’m more resigned to the reality. I imagine that as I get older, I will fear it. I wonder if anyone is able to look death in the eye and be so confident.
I think the great paradox here is this: As a child, I thought I knew everything when I really didn’t know much. Now, as an adult, I’m convinced that I do not know much but I know much more than I have known my whole life.
Maybe I am a grown up after all. If I was a child, I wouldn’t be analyzing what to feel right now. But I am. I realize I have a choice to make in this matter. I can remove my emotions and distance my self from the fact that our friend is no longer with us. I realize what has happened but I reject any desire in my heart to feel and instead, accept this harsher reality of life in a stoic way. In the short (and maybe even long) run, this is much easier and I feel like I have a much better handle on life (as illusory as that might be). The other path I can go down is to accept that this is a part of life and actually allow myself to feel the range of grief and loss and seemingly contradicting emotions of relief and peace and utter joy that Idilio is no longer in pain and is with his Savior. The latter choice is much more difficult to grapple with and process because it takes time, intentional effort and my entire being to be present throughout.
I don’t wanna grow up.
But I will.
And I will sing.
In the midst of joy, sadness and anger.
And for death.