I find it somewhat comforting when my surroundings remind me that this, all of this, is just a phase. The wild river of life, not unlike the Monsoon Lagoon at Raging Waters, twists and turns as it sees fit. No doubt in a few short years, or weeks or months or even days for that matter, we’ll all find ourselves paddling completely different routes.
Tonight I was reminded how fortunate it is that I am no longer ten years old. No longer do I throw tantrums and shout at my mother and slam doors so hard it ripples the floor upstairs and makes the lights flicker. Me? I don’t really mind listening to the whole act. I actually find it quite entertaining, and what’s more it also grants me a moment’s pause for reflection. I smile at it now, knowing that fifteen years ago nothing I blew up over was critical enough to leave a lasting impression on my life. I chuckle and wonder why the hell I took it all so seriously, when nothing really mattered at all.
Sure, I realize this now, but to be fair I must remind myself that back then, this was my very reality. I commit a historical injustice when I superimpose my current mental state on my ten-year-old self. Back then I was ten, and that’s all I had. All those daily ups and downs, the joys and stresses, they were what constituted my life. Of course I took all that stuff seriously, whether it was the injustice of not getting a Sega Genesis for Christmas, or missing a ride to school in the morning, or being forced to eat hot lunch for an entire year.
Ultimately, what difference did it make? In the long-term, was it really worth gettin’ stressed out and throwing a tantrum over that Genesis? Damn. Even back then, when I saved up and finally bought one with my own money, I ended up selling it a couple months later for a Super Nintendo. Talk about a short romance. Back in 1990, try telling me that in fifteen years the main players in the video game realm would be the company that built my Walkman, and the company that invented DOS. Try telling me that Ninendo would literally own Sega. I would probably call you crazy, and I then I would probably kick you in the shins. Seriously, I was notorious for that in elementary school.
Flux is the natural state of all things. This is both ridiculously obvious and ridiculously easy to forget. Even now, I’m no doubt working myself into a tizzy over things that, in ten years’ time, I’ll simply laugh at upon reflection. The only difference is that this time around I’m aware that my stresses are ridiculous in the greater sense, involving such dumb things as mysterious mold growing on the outside of my flower pots, bleach stains on my bath mat, and misspellings on my LLC registration with the Oregon Secretary of State.
In its own dumb way, the knowledge that these stresses are inconsequential becomes a stress itself, a kind of meta-stress about the lack of relevant stress in my life. Sigh. Perhaps I miss my days of hiking through hailstorms, evading grizzlies, and treating blisters.
Or perhaps there’s just a gaping hole in my heart. Try as I might to distract myself with the banalities of civilized life, I miss those days of driving to Anoka, playing lousy mini-golf, and turning road signs into giant birds that eat people.
I just lost the game.