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Why'd we leave the kid behind?

How many times have you heard someone utter these exact words – “I wish that I was a ten-year-old again”? Quite a few times, I bet! I too have exclaimed this out loud on several occasions, but I’ve never been able to figure out why, in retrospect… until now, that is. In my experience, it’s never just one event that leads to this exasperation, but rather a chain of questions that converge upon a bigger one –

Am I living my life today, exactly the way I would want to?

Now, don’t just react to the apparent morose tone of that question! This doesn’t have to be deep and profound at all! In fact, it is quite simple. In my mind, it boils down to five sub-questions. (Yes, five. Because I went down this train of thought and came back with five. If you find another ten, well, good for you!)
  1. What sort of people am I surrounded by?

  2. Am I doing something that I love?

  3. Do I still have something to look forward to?

  4. What do I think of myself when I reflect upon my past?

  5. Am I capable of ‘living in the moment’?

The joker within me could not help but concoct ridiculous answers to all those questions while I was framing them!Well, generally I am surrounded by idiots, who assume that I am an idiot. That works out quite evenly! Sometimes they are sane and mildly engaging. On rare occasions can they give me a run for my money, and I live for those occasions.Of course, I am doing something that I love! But hold on… you aren’t referring to this blog post, are you? You’re talking about my ACTUAL job. Well, let’s circle back to that one later, shall we? Currently, the only thing that I’m looking forward to? – End of the lockdown of course! One day, I’ll step into a nice brewery, punch a tiny hole through my mask, and drink a triple IPA with a curly straw! I KNOW the image is disgusting, but ever since Twitter promised an ‘edit’ functionality contingent on everyone wearing a mask, I’m doing my part! Upon reflection, I think that the present ‘me’ is not bad. But my confidence usually grows with every additional 30ml of scotch, and eventually, I do land at ‘awesome’! As for ‘living in the moment’, it doesn’t get better than this – writing ridiculous answers to questions even as I frame them!

Now, you may have noticed that money does not feature in those questions or answers. That is because the subjectivity associated with ‘how much is enough?’, usually kills any other argument. So I’d like to steer away from the greens, and get into the meat of this discussion!

Honestly, those questions do capture my current thoughts on life, and while not all answers are overwhelmingly positive, I think I am doing A-okay! But maybe that’s because I’m writing a blog at this very moment, and that skews things over to the unicorn side of the world! I bet the response could be radically polar on other occasions when the balance in my life shakes a tiny bit and a few thoughts pop incessantly in my head –

Why the hell am I even doing this anymore?I wish that people weren’t such jerks!I wish that people weren’t such jerks!What’s the point in trying anything new!

It is the culmination of these thoughts that triggers the phrase – “I wish that I was a ten-year-old again!”.

But why those exact words? Because arguably, for us, childhood was the only period of life that seemed truly satisfactory! And here’s the reason why – as children, we practised some of the finest habits of successful adult life even without trying! You’d think that I’ve gone completely senile if I told you that the ten-year-old version of you was far more mature than you could ever hope to be in the present age. Of course, what I mean to say, is that children do a few things unknowingly, which lends pure rarity to the time that they live in. All you need to do is think slightly deeper and tap into what those things are!

As a child, I was never too stressed.

Granted that exams did spew a couple of tensed mornings, but that didn’t stress me! There was a tiny bit of fun competing and trying to reach the top. For some of my schoolmates though, defying educational authority and scoring the lowest marks in English was an equal measure of fun! Whether it was essay writing or debates, show & tells or sports, each kid had his way of making school fun, right?

And when we could not tap the fun in something?

We pivoted, of course! As a child, my priorities in life were pretty straight – I cannot run a hundred metres in twenty seconds to save my life, so I’d rather just focus on the stuff that I like – Science and History! History was fun because there so many stories to unearth (literally), and Science was just cool (you can tell that I’m still a nerd)!

The pursuit of fun applied to our personal lives as well! When Tom & Jerry was no longer funny, The Flintstones came along. When hopscotch got boring, ‘gully cricket’ was discovered. Whatever the activity, our main evaluation criteria was ‘units of fun’. We never went around asking people, “How much do you think NASA would pay ME to go to the MOON?”. We just said, “I wanna be an astronuts!” (yeah the word was difficult back in 2nd grade!)

And things were never constant, right?

One day, I wanted to be an astronaut…the next day, I wanted to be a scientist…a week later, I wanted to become an Air Force pilot (thanks to a Top Gun poster that I came across)! So the exploration literally never stopped. Even when I began to settle down on likes and dislikes, the list was so long that it was practically impossible to remember whether I liked the litmus test in chemistry or centrifugal forces in physics! We just went along for the ride and hopped on and off when it pleased us. Good times!

But that did not mean that our childhood lacked stability!

I had friends who spent the entire summer with me, the one cable network show that I WOULD NOT forget to watch every day, the one game of cricket that I had to get in before the sun went down, and the favourite flavour of cake that was always ordered on my birthday! I agree that these were minuscule things, but how are they any different from the sitcom that we binge-watch today, or the bunch of guys whom we hang out at the bar with? Times have changed, but our habits haven’t.

Well, at least some of them haven’t…!

For instance, consider the habit of crying to make things go our way. Sure, there are better ways to deal with that as adults, but the fact that we cried so much during childhood also meant that we cared about a few things as much! At three years of age, I cried for food; at seven years of age, I cried for a set of Hot Wheels; at ten years of age, I cried for my favourite fantasy book; but fast forward another fifteen years, and I have only cried because of people. People who turned their back on me, people who used me, people who ridiculed me, and those who broke my heart in some significant way. I remember some of those moments even as a kid, but do you know what was the difference? Back then, I knew how to hold on to someone. I knew how to remember someone with joy, not sorrow. I knew how to forgive without trying so hard. And I also knew how to forget and move on with time! In fact, you won’t believe this, but I did not even know the concept of ‘holding a grudge’ until I reached college!

And college was all that I thought of when I was a kid!

Not wearing a uniform on weekdays, was a world that my ten-year-old self could not fathom! And in general, I always wanted to grow up and get ahead in life. I wanted to follow Dad to his office. I wanted to walk around in a suit and look all-important. There was even a time when I wanted to grow old like my grandfather and chew tobacco while resting in the verandah! Those were small aspirations, but all of them had one thing in common – I just wanted to grow up, and not be a kid anymore. But this thought crossed my mind only when the homework was TRULY unbearable! For the rest of my childhood, I was just like any other kid in this world. Just a kid!

And yet, as adults, we cannot say that too often, can we?

Because it is never enough to be just an adult! Being an adult MEANS that you no longer are a kid! But really, is it so bad to preserve a bit of that kid within us? I don’t think so.

From where I stand, it looks like the kid knew how to have fun and not get stressed. He definitely had his priorities straight and lived for the stuff that gave him joy. He spent a large part of his childhood exploring stuff that he would never end up doing, yet he never stopped exploring! He had strong friends to rely on and was not a person who broke easily. Well, he did break down for the things that he cared about, but he also knew how to evolve. And while ‘living in the moment’ was a motto that he practically swore by, the only thing that the dude ever wanted was to grow up!

So the next time we question life and the way we currently live it, why not spin around and ask our ten-year-old self for some sound advice? …***avoid any advice on food though… that dude had a terrible palate!

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