Sometimes I feel like I don’t know
Sometimes I feel like checkin’ out
I want to get it wrong
Can’t always be strong
And love it won’t be long…

– U2, “Ultraviolet”

So many thoughts over the last few days, so many conversations. I couldn’t write it all down if I tried. It all seems circular. I’m not out of the woods yet.

According to Jung we go through several transitions in our lives, symbolised by the archetype of the hero’s quest, and marked by an iniatiatory experience. In times past the initiatiation might have been a real ritual; now it might only occur in the mind, or in dream. In the initiation the wild, bold, selfish, proud ego confronts it’s fears and is brought to a point of submission, symbolized by death, and then reborn. In this way the independant ego is reconciled to it’s role in a larger group – be it the family, the tribe, or society as a whole.

But sometimes people get stuck. They don’t progress past a certain point.

I am stuck. For many reasons this year marks the “point of no return” for me. It is the year when going forward means total commitment to the life of the responsible adult that I have chosen. It represents a seal of finality to me. And I am afraid.

In a way I don’t have a choice. I’m 24. I can’t go back to the teenage years. I look around sometimes and realize the kids I identify with are 5, even as much as ten years younger. I feel like those years were stolen from me. I was busy either floating in lonely limbo or being a responsible adult, and they slipped away from me without a sound. I never did the things that kids do.

So I’m stuck, but in an odd way. It’s not that I’m immature; it’s that I’ve been choosing to be mature beyond my years all of this time, and now I no longer have a choice. And I realize that now that I finally have lost the fear that hindered me from cutting loose, there’s no longer time.

I realize that I don’t have to give up my youth entirely. I know that I can integrate aspects of the youthful lifestyle into responsible adulthood. But I am also realizing that it won’t be easy. That I can’t expect certain basic conditions to change, without setting myself up for constant dissapointment. I can’t expect that the money to afford the lifestyle of a yuppie bachelour is “right around the corner” anymore. I have to realize that the needs of the family will almost certainly always expand to match my income. There will always be conflict and resentment over every time I want to go out, every time I stay up late. There will always be jealousy of my friends. It sounds fatalistic, but it seems to me that to continue to deny this is to fall into the definition of stupidity (doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result).

I’m afraid to put the seal on my obligations and responsibilities, even as I realize that the potential to experience certain aspects of youth are lost to me forever no matter what I do. I don’t want to become like the “eternal teenagers” I’ve known – in their thirties and fourties, immature, unreliable, hanging out with kids half their age, unable to make real connections. I have an intuitive sense that if I run, in any sense of the word, I’ll never stop running. But I’m afraid to submit.

I want to get it wrong. I want to fall apart, just once in my life. I want to believe my life isn’t on rails. And sometimes it seems as if the only way to prove that is to deliberately screw up; because the sense that it is on rails comes from the fact that I know, I know, that no matter how I feel I’ll always wind up making the right, the responsible, the sensible choice. Can you understand hating the fact that you know you’ll always get it right? Does that make any sense at all? Part of me actually hates the fact that I’m reliable.

I’m on the verge of something, I don’t know what. I have a sense that if I don’t accept my role in life, any power that is latent in me will never be genuinely realized. It will be humbug, hypocrisy, illusionary. Like the preacher whose wife divorces him and whose children hate him.

I’m treading water. The bleak desolation that I felt earlier this week is being kept at bay; but I’m not getting anything done, either.

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  1. I occasionally feel like that, too. And I always make the responsible choice, as well. I don’t think I know how not to. Sometimes I wish I did, but that scares me more than the known results of the “right” choice.

  2. good luck…

    in your quest.. in your confrontation.. in your problem… in your decision… in however you want to categorize this…

    good luck..

    In a sense.. I think I was lucky.. very twisted luck, at least, in the fact that I had a horrible controlling mother trying to determine for me at every step, who I was and who I wanted to be… This fact made me, from a very early age, want to escape.. to become an adult.. to take on responsibility either–and this was the idealistic side of me–to show her that I was capable of determining who I was quite well and thus thinking that she would then respect me for who I was–but more realistically, to be able to get away from her, and thus be physically able to determine such things…

    thus… my mother has been actually quite capable in her job of raising three sons who are generally well adapted to handling the world.. but she hasn’t quite come to grips with the fact that the manner in which she did this has made all of us hate to be in her presence…

    you have related that you had a good childhood and good parents… and perhaps.. in another twisted way.. this has set you back.. you were allowed to pick whatever paths you wanted–to be responsible beyond your years or not–but you weren’t driven to want to become an adult….

    then again.. I can’t really advocate bad parenting.. since so many others reactions to it seems to be to merely shirk all responsibilities in rebellion to the controlling parent…

    good luck… (three times a charm)

  3. I look around sometimes and realize the kids I identify with are 5, even as much as ten years younger.

    Same here! Most of my closest friends these days are around the age of 21, 22. I’m finding more in common with them because the friends that are my age don’t want to go out and do anything anymore – they all claim “dayjobitis” or “being tired” and here I am, an eternal 17-year-old who wants to go out every night and rock and roll!

  4. to experience some youthfulness. on your way home from work, stop at a toys r us, play with everything until they kindly ask you to leave. it is fun, youthy, and and exilerating experience. i have done this twice. once for riding the foldable scooters all around the entire store when they first came out, and once for the gian’t red balls with handles that you sit on. try it, just to see what it feels like.

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