You’ll never guess who I ran into this week. The boy within.
In Armchair Zen World, we follow a thought called Ring Theory. This says that as you grow, like a tree, your inner rings or younger years exist beneath the newer rings, the outer bark, your present age.
It’s sort of like that “inner child” thing that was popular philosophy in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m not sure what the pop philosophy was about, but I know I am the same person, within the same mind, as the me who was a boy long ago. I can still be as excited over a favorite toy or a rainbow or a shooting star or a fish on the line as I was then.
Boy Me suddenly popped into conscious reality one day recently. I suppose I may have conjured him up a bit as I posed the question “What would boy me think of now me?”.
Boy Me was very excited that we could drive a car, for instance. A dream of the future for a ten-year-old. Boy Me was astounded that we had so many wonderful grown-up toys we’d only imagined owning. A house, a barn, a pickup truck, a fishing boat. More guitars than one person needs. And money! Money in my pocket, the freedom to spend it and the transportation to get to the store!
Grownup Me was a bit surprised. Grownup me had made the mistake of viewing his world from a rough patch of bark on the shadow side of the tree.
There are bills to pay. Work to be done, 60 hours a week dedicated to the prospect of bringing in enough money to pay the bills, hoping for no surprises. No end in sight to the treadmill, but a long upward climb to the end-phase, “retirement”. A future worry to worry about. Worry about how we’ll make money and spend money in a time that doesn’t even exist yet. A time whose conditions are entirely unknown, and could be better, worse, the same or non-existent by the time the human calendar and the endless clockworks arrive at that place.
There is rest to be had. Rest after work. Rest after dinner. Rest after resting. Rest up to go rest. There have been many years of working and mowing and painting and marrying-off children and burying friends and relatives. There have been decades of mortgage payments, nights in the emergency room, the decision to unplug life support. There have been cars stuck in the snow, stuck in the mud, stuck on the side of the road. There have been ruts in which I was stuck. Sometimes for years.
Boy Me was flabbergasted. Rest? Really? A house and land and money and a family and a car and a dog and so many wonderful things to be excited about, and all that can be imagined is rest? Are you kidding me?
Boy Me remembered being 10, 12, 15. Imagining someday. Someday had a house and land and a car and a family and a dog. Someday had money to spend, a fishing boat, a snowmobile, and time to enjoy them. Someday there would be grownup-ness, and I would be the decider. I would decide what time was bedtime, if there was to be any. I would decide what is good for me to eat or drink or how late I could have a snack or how many cookies were appropriate. I would decide if I would empty a candy dish in one sitting.
Imagined Someday would find me with the freedom to do as I please, within reason. To do as I see fit. To do, or not do if I so chose.
Grownup me was a little hesitant. A little grumpy. A little achey. A little tired. Worried about the weather for Sunday’s Leaf Pile Party. Worried about the approaching heating season. Buying gas, buying pellets. What if the combustion blower needs to be replaced this year? Finally got the wellcap rebuilt and right behind it is the outhouse which will need attention before snow causes its collapse. There’s too much tired and worry and work and winter to be concerned with. Perhaps this is not a good time for childish thoughts.
Boy Me laughed. You grownups. You just don’t know when you’ve got it good, do you? From the perspective of the age of ten, I’d say you’ve achieved a place similar to a god, or perhaps a king. No one to tell you what to do but yourself. Thankfully, you still have all the functions you had as 10-year-old you. Arms and legs and eyes and lungs to go forth into the world, to read books, to select satellite channels, to buy gas for the mower, to haul in a smallmouth bass, to have lunch whenever and wherever you want.
Power tools and model airplanes and you don’t need anyone’s permission to use them!
Sure, the whole having things and money and toys goes against the grain of eschewing wordly possessions, I suppose. Then again, this is Armchair Zen, not a temple.
Boy Me: What? You even have your own blog site and your own brand of philosophy?
Grownup Me: Well, yeah. It’s pretty easy when you’re a grownup.
Boy Me: But isn’t this exactly what we wished for as a child? To be able to have and do all these things? What are you waiting for? Let’s go play!!
Grownup Me: I, um. I thought there was something that prevented me from acting like a child…
Boy Me: Race you to the car!
Grownup Me: Bet I can be there first!
Be at peace,