All Grown Up
Some gracious soul in my high school class today invited me to be a part of its Facebook group. Nothing unusual there. The motive for the invite, while not universally unusual, is still rather shocking to me. It came because we are in the midst of the 30th anniversary of our class’s graduation. All my peers, along with me, want to know how it is that we became so old. That’s what time does.
It is my contention, however, that we feel old precisely because we do not feel old. We are shocked at how old we actually are because we don’t feel any older than we once were. Do we not all go through our childhoods wondering when we will grow up? Do we not think that some switch will be turned, perhaps slowly, perhaps quickly, but either way definitively? Does not hitting this switch, in a manner of speaking, reset the clock? Indeed we attach all manner of rites of passage, thinking they might be the moment—high school or college graduation, getting married, having a child, buying your first house. I have been through all of these and more, and wake up every morning the same kid I was back then. Oh sure I don’t look the same. My top is much thinner, my middle much thicker. I sometimes creak when I walk. I need special glasses just for reading. But it’s still just me. There is no switch because there is no change. There are tests, hardships, challenges. There are successes and there are failures. But we are what we were. A man is just a boy with wounds.
Is it possible that we never feel grown up because as our capabilities increase with age so increases our responsibilities. When we were young our biggest worry was striking out in the ballgame. Small tyke, small problem. Perhaps in high school our concerns became mildly more serious as we became mildly more able—would we make sufficiently good grades? When we move out on our own we have the burden of bills. When we marry and have children, however, eternity enters the mix. By that time we are well equipped to dazzle at simple multiplication. But that’s not our current test. We may be earning comfortably. But that’s not our test. Now there are souls under our care. Which drives us back to our own childhood, as we beseech our heavenly Father to help us.
Because we are the same person we were when we were young, before the advent of the wounds, we embrace nostalgia. We long for a time when we were who we are, but had not yet been so wounded. We long for today’s abilities and yesterday’s tests.
My peers have done well for themselves. We were a graduating class of about fifteen students. We have PhD.’s. We have successful business executives. We have, oddly, multiple authors, including the winner of the 2011 Newberry Award for children’s literature. If and when we get together we will face that temptation to pile together and display our accomplishments. We will seek to put a distance between us now and us then. But it’s just us. The same kids with the same frailties. Only now we worry also about our wrinkles or hairlines. Other than that, I haven’t changed a bit. Which may in the end be the reason I won’t go. Would love to see everyone. But they already know me. I’m still that guy.