Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Adult View

As a little chap I thought Adults knew absolutely everything. It was just a case of getting older and finding out how the world works. Gradually you realise that everyone, everywhere is just doing the best they can. You can and often have to choose an answer, but it is normally just the best answer available. You also realise as the days and years pass that even those who were with you when things happened had completely different perspectives. They could see and hear different things. They had different emotions going on and they had different paths to get to those points. If we only perceive the things that matter to us, and different things matter to different people, every moment is uniquely experienced by each person.

We aren't really all unique snowflakes. You seldom find out about an individual issue that is so far out of the bounds of the human experience that you don't recognise it in some way. I think it is more likely than we are unique combinations of very common flavours. Although even our shared experiences aren't shared because we experience them differently, we can combine the experiences of others to get something that rings true. That is why a piece of music or a painting can feel familiar and you can recognise the response you have when you hear or see it. It would be great if we could strip our identities from our stories so that we don't feel so scared of sharing them. Often hearing our stories resonate with others makes us realise we are not alone. We like unique. We don't like alone.

I find it interesting getting to the age where various Adults in my life were when I thought they knew everything. Will Smith is now apparently not so fresh anymore. He is the age Uncle Phil was when the Prince arrived in Bel-Air. I can still sing the tune. My life is rather different from my parents when they were my age. 1984/6 Durban, South Africa is a very different place from 2015 London, United Kingdom. This extends to teachers, uncles, aunts, politicians, artists and all the other people we looked up to. We often think of people outside of the context of where they were. Being at a similar age often opens up stories you have heard before in entirely different ways. Perhaps we are far enough away from stories for them to be interesting rather than emotional quagmires too. At some point you can't really blame childhood or formative experiences anymore. Time heals, but it also shifts responsibility for the position you find yourself in onto yourself. Ouch. That sounds harsh. But it is also empowering. It means you can do something to change your lot whatever it is.

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