Monday, April 6, 2009

to kill the child within

I don't know exactly where this romantic notion of "the child within" came from. We idealize youth in really stupid ways, in my opinion. I mean, sure, who hasn't looked at a lithe teenage body and drooled a little? We've all been there! But let's face it, despite their physical beauty, kids do stupid shit. They ask too many questions. They have no personal boundaries. They are curious about sex. They dream of bigger things. They get in trouble. They play pretend. They have imaginary friends. They think that something being boring is enough of a reason not to do it.

I say this in the heat of my own little epiphany. I am an emotional infant, and possibly mentally challenged. I am hopelessly old - quarter-life-crisis-ready, beaten and bruised by adult life - but I have never felt more like a child. Instead of enjoying an ice-cream cone or spinning joyously around in circles for no reason at all, however, I feel helpless and lost. I do not enjoy this feeling. Being a child is frightening.

What missing ingredient was there in my development? So many of my peers have it, but I don't. They book appointments, go to work, grocery shop, join gyms, have power lunches, pick out new drapes - and all like they have a clear idea of why they are doing these things. I do stuff as well, sure, but for the life of me I can't figure out what any of it is for.

I dwell on the details.

My thoughts are utterly grandiose.

I want to be a fireman.

No, a police officer!

No, no! President!

I just want some peace.

I want someone to pull a lever and spin my brain like a slot machine, and make me arbitrarily live out the course of my life according to the random pattern of events the aligning wheels would illustrate. Instead of cherries and lemons and apples, the symbols would be more akin to hieroglyphs or Chinese characters. Each one would provide its own chapter to the book of my silly life, a sentence in a Madlib story, a character in an improv scene. I would be a happy robot then.

For if I were a robot, I wouldn't question the feelings my maker endowed me with. If I felt fear or desire, or pleasure, or love, I would accept all that as part of my robot nature. I would do what I do without ever wondering what else there might be. I would love what I love because I was made to love it. There would be no possibility of questioning the source of this love, or its motive. There would be no shame.

But instead of an adult robot, I am a baby primate. Great ape. I am not a suitable house pet. I may want to drive cars and then eat somebody's face. I may look civilized because I know how to use eating utensils and the toilet, but I am still a wild beast.

Oh, if only being shot with a tranquilizer gun didn't hurt...