I have always made claim that I am rather good at pretending to be an adult. As it turns out, I may be too good.
While I pursue many interests that are/were relegated to the younger crowd, I’ve learned that simply having a set of young hobbies, and perhaps thinking like a young person from time to time, does not necessarily back up one’s claim to be a child at heart. And perhaps neither does it lend any true desirability to such a condition as the man-boy. For all my gradeouse ideas of being a child at heart, I’ve come to the realization that such a thing is probably not entirely true.
I was talking to a younger folk in recent history. Most of our conversation revolved around him and his pursuits as a young person. I found myself smiling a fake little smile and making little comments to feign interest. It wasn’t until I realized I had taken this rather patronizing stance towards the youngling that I realized that I had almost nothing in common with him. And looking back at myself 10 years ago or more, I don’t know that I have much in common with that person either.
So what happened? As a young person I was not much outside the cookie cutter mindset of those who lack the lessons that only the years give. That is to say, I was pretty stupid. That’s OK, though, most young people are pretty stupid; they can’t help it. The feeling of being the immortal center of the universe is perhaps an inevitable mindset of the young for certainly I was no exception to it. I thought largely in terms of myself and though I fancied myself a fairly open-minded person, I really wasn’t. I didn’t even understand what is required to make the claim of open-mindedness. To be fair, I was free of most of the ugly prejudice that peppers the world, but I lacked the ability to view a situation from the eyes of those I disagreed with. The fact that I viewed them as being wrong was enough to dismiss their views as irrelevant. Granted, even many “adult” people do this, but I digress.
However, sometime in the last 10 years or so I changed. The scope of my consideration expanded beyond myself and any narrow views I constrained myself with. I can no longer be the perfect center of a focused universe, nor do I really want to be. Morality is tempered with mindfulness of the diversity of circumstance, politics are built with fact, and ideology is composed of consistency of thought. It is no longer sufficient to think something is true by merit of a favorable reflection of a personal ideal; rather the thought must be scrutinized for consistency, basis in fact, and applicability to the actual situation. I’m not perfect, as I still have a hasty nature that compels me to often speak before thinking, but I’m getting better.
So as I talked to this shallow youngling, I realized that my claims of being a child a heart may be baseless. Certainly I take great enjoyment from hobbies of the younger ilk, but increasingly that is all I seem to share with them. More, it is all I really want to share.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?