Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "Grown up" myth

As a child you only have one job – you are expected to grow up.
The idea of staying forever young was not even considered – although right now it doesn’t seem that absurd to me anymore.
As a child you were expected to transform continuously, to reach that magical point of adulthood.
Once you have passed that imaginary line – some time around 18 – you had arrived.
From then on you were a “grown up”; an adult. Job done! Mission accomplished!

Or at least that what we thought… but wait! – Life seems to have a different agenda.
That Promised Land, where you have finished growing up, where you know everything and are in control of everything, never materialized.
Like it or not, life keeps throwing you new problems and challenges.
Like it or not you have to learn new tricks and keep changing.

The idea that you are a “grown up” was a pure myth.
You are and will always be “growing up”…

I remember starting up my work as a video engineer – one of my many career moves.
I had to clean and vacuum behind the equipment racks – not a job for a college graduate, I thought.
“You have to pay your dues” – They told me – “We all start like this but one day when you will become a “senior” engineer you will have your own new, guy going through the “initiation”.

Well, I am the “senior” engineer and that day never came.
Instead of becoming the “accomplished” engineer – that fountain of knowledge for the new generation – I have become obsolete.
The new –computerized – generation is looking at me not like a source of wisdom but like an antiquated, obsolete relic.

After the “midlife” crisis I thought I will finally arrive to that “golden” age in every man’s life.
That age of total fulfillment, of stability, of meaning and reward.
That never happened.

I have no idea who I am and where I’m supposed to go.
It is that “unknown”, it is that “emotional storm”, that “emotional instability” that kills me.
I know I have to “reinvent” myself – the question is: Why, to what end?
To change just to survive?
Well, it seems logical, but to me to survive just to survive never had any meaning.

Without the “grown up” destination life seems just to drag on to its inevitable extinction without rhyme or reason.
We need to find another purpose for our “grown up” population.


Lydia said...

This post has a lot of angst in it, and I think many men past, say 45, often feel the way you describe. Do women? I'm not sure, because I'm not in the work world and I don't know how trends have changed since 2000 when I was in the office. I think everyone is looking for meaning, and I notice posts by bloggers in their 20s who frequently address their wrong selections for career choices (one hated the law and decided to give it up to return to grad school to become a teacher). I'm not sure that you realize you may be describing a universal concern. the workforce, work itself, is changing so rapidly. I know are not alone in your worry and fury.

Grampa Ken said...

Stephen Leacock Talked about this.

"Why are we such fools - such tragic fools? How strange it is, our little procession of life. The child says, 'when I am a big boy'. But what is that? the big boy says, 'when I grow up'. And then, grown up, he says, 'when I get married'. But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to, 'when I retire'. And then when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour".

Today is what matters.

LC David said...

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Diego said...

About a week ago I was talking to a 19 year old co-worker and he was looking a little depressed and I asked him what was going on in his head. He told me he thought life wasn't as much fun as he thought it was would be as an adult. Yesterday he told me his three best friends had all joined the air force because they could not find employment.

The current state of the economy, I believe, is causing a sort of 'depression wave' to move through our social and political environment, affecting everyone. We are told to comfort ourselves with the idea that 'at least we have a job' but if you have become 'obsolete' or you work in a field that depends on discretionary income, you cannot help but be affected by the worry that tomorrow your job may not be there and being a good or moral person will not alleviate that concern.

One of the factors of the eightfold path is 'right livelihood' and the absence of this can and will throw a human life out of balance.

Michael said...

I've just eaten an Easter Bunny!