I didn't enjoy being young. Enumerating all the reasons for this would be foolhardy and dull, but one reason was that I felt constantly powerless. Everyone else in my life determined what I would do and when I would do it, and that bothered me too much to really enjoy myself. It confused me greatly then, and still bemuses me slightly, when people express nostalgia for the days of childhood. It wasn't all bad, of course, but I would wholeheartedly choose the autonomy and responsibility I have now over the stuckness I felt then. Every time, anytime.
I think I've finally gotten my arms around it, though, what people are missing when they
miss childhood. Every morning when I sit down to my computer, I wake my brain
up enough to ask what I have to do that day. What's on my to-do list? Chores,
correspondence, money-work, creative work? Checking on submissions, revisions,
reading for others, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, dusting? Does Matt
need socks or something dry-cleaned? Is there something coming up in our lives
that I need to prepare for now?
It's not just
having to complete all these tasks, but having to remember to do them, and
feeling the pressure of responsibility to get A, B, and C done that day, that
adulthood is all about. You can pay others to keep your to-do list for you,
potentially; you can shirk all your responsibilities and wash yourself with a rag
on a stick. But normally, you have a to-do list for any given day and you run
through it before you sleep again.
This morning, when I sat down at my computer and tried to boot up my mental to-do list, I felt
this weariness. Like,
ohgod, I have another damn to-do list for today, I am so tired of doing things.
(See also this.)
I wondered if it was possible not to have a to-do list for an extended period, and realized that's what
childhood is like. Everyone else is keeping your list for you; you just have to
follow their directions. How reassuring it would be to do life this way, rather
than having to keep track of all your own shit.
In other news,
water is wet. Happy Friday.