This is a rather momentous day for me, as today I turn 60 years of age. At this point, it is obvious that I am not going to experience something that I thought I would somewhere during the past 40 years: I have yet to experience that moment in which I would forever more, consider myself an adult.
I’ve done adult stuff, but that’s doing and not being. I’ve parented and taught and voted and balanced a checkbook (which is apparently more adulting than some adults ever manage), but I don’t really feel any different in here, so to speak, than the day I turned say, 12. Yes, my eyes, knees, skin, etc., etc., feel different, but that’s just an inventory of parts, that’s not me.
As a non-adult, I don’t really deal well with things such as insurance forms or maintaining the concentration necessary to stand in the store and sort through the 83 combinations of tooth pastes to match the one written on the grocery list in detail. (This one fights cavities, but it’s a gel. This one’s a paste and fights cavities, but doesn’t whiten. This one is in a pretty box . . . I wonder what cookies are on sale?)
It’s interesting to me that some very successful adults seem to enjoy hanging out with me. I think it’s because their inner children feel free to come out and play when I’m around. Some friends have come to me with some very adult situations, but I think it’s because I reach their inner children when they can’t. Takes a child to recognize a child, so to speak.
Actually, I feel more the boy at 60 than I did at 20 or 40, but then that’s because in the past twenty years or so I’ve relearned two things that seem born into children, but that we manage to drum out of them: One is to care way less about stuff and way more about people, even strangers. Two is to go where the day takes you. I know that we have jobs and responsibilities and such, but those aren’t the same as shutting ourselves off from stray dogs and interesting sticks and trying to hit a sapling with a walnut.
Life is not an Accounting, It’s an Adventure. With a little luck, I will manage another 20 or 30 years or so having altogether escaped that sensation of being an adult, so that in the end, folks can say about me what William Dean Howells, Mark Twain’s editor, said about his most famous author:
He was a youth to the end of his days, the heart of a boy with the head of a sage; the heart of a good boy, or a bad boy, but always a willful boy and willfulest to show himself out at every time for just the boy he was.