Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Joy of Not Knowing

There is much said about youth, particularly about being a teenager. I'm sure you can distinctly recall being told that you "didn't know anything" when you were between say 13 and 20. Which at the time is probably the most annoying thing anyone could say to you. Alas, it is also true. Really the true joy of youth is not knowing anything.

I long for those days when I thought I knew what I was doing, thought that my parents were just trying to control me and that their "advice" was based on their life and not on me. I mean I was going to do things my way! I have to pause now to laugh....

Now that I am older and a parent, I realize (to my chagrin) that my parents were mainly right about what they told me. I am a unique person and not everything they said applies to me or to the choices that I have made but what you don't know when you are young is that there are some rules in life that you don't have the option to follow. When you are young you truly believe that your life is your own, that you have control and that you can "make" things happen the way you want them to.

It is usually painful and sometimes humiliating when life decides to teach you a lesson. Like gravity and physics, there are laws and you cannot change them by design or will. Gravity is can't avoid it. But the sheer joy of thinking that you intoxicating.

When my brother was about 5 years old he decided to ride his bike down a large concrete slide in the park where we were playing. He was five and it seemed like a good idea to him. Needless to say, the laws of physics had another plan and in the end there were tears, blood and a lot of panicked adults. Also needless to say, my brother never rode his bike down a concrete slide again. That was one lesson he only needed to learn once!

Unfortunately the life lessons you learn as you stumble into adulthood are similar in experience to the bike/concrete slide story...there is usually tears, sometimes blood and a lot of panicked adults. As you get older the pain is greater, the consequences more severe and longer lasting.

But you do not know this and you are ignoring all the people who could possibly help. It's like falling overboard and then refusing to be rescued because you're sure you can swim to shore. You might be able to get there but what condition are you going to be in when you arrive? Life is all about survival and continual denial of the facts is risky business.

I do miss that feeling of possibility and hope for things I don't understand. It was blissful. Now I have to live with the pain of knowing. And being a person who tries to avoid pain as much as possible (I've had my fill for this lifetime), watching my daughters grow up and seeing what they don't know is almost as painful as going through it all over again in my own life.

I can't save them from themselves...I know this, but I hope that once in awhile they let me show them an easier way or accept that the advice I give is in an effort to save them from what I know is inevitable pain and suffering. I would go back to the age where I "thought" I knew everything in a second, but not if I had to relive the process of learning what it is to "know". Gravity is unavoidable, I have the bruises and scars to prove it.