When I was a child, I used to look at adults with the greatest envy. From the confinement of the educational institutions, in which I was bonded by a contract between society and my family in which nobody had asked for my opinion, less so an official agreement, even though it resulted in impacting only my person, I thought the adults being the free individuals liberated form the constraints of the school. I believed them free, so I saw them happy as they looked to be headed in directions they chose. Therefore, occupying a bench that sat next to a window looking over a principal street, I used to dream of the adulthood that was waiting for me after the useless years of education. And in between, I hated school as much as I could.
One day at the end of high school, the release happened after a long time. It was a sunny summer day. It was a July 5th, the next day after a historical victory of the Romanian soccer team against Argentina. And it was also the night after the 4th of July, a day I used to celebrate, not because I was an American, but because that day represented for me personally a celebration of the freedom of human spirit. It’s pretty easy to be idealistic when you are a teenager, isn’t it? I had a break afterward, in which I tried adulthood, but somehow I fell back into the same trap and went to college, to pursue even more useless education, and a degree that would have aligned me with the vast majority of my generation.
Finally reached full adulthood after college years. Those years were transformative at a personal level but also at a societal level. Romania was overdoing a few experimental transitional processes from idealistic communism, that proved to be a monumental failure, to an ultra practical capitalism, about which we knew nothing. Capitalism was for us at the time the representation of the western civilization that succeeded. We saw it as a story of success, mostly because our story was a magnificent failure.
Thus, transitioning to adulthood and real personal independence followed a long path. When I finally found myself at the point of being free, I didn’t stumble, but enjoyed the glory of the moment.
Disappointments came only at a later time, when the lies were unveiled. They came into view, one by one, laughing at me sarcastically. Then came the time when I tried to understand why did adults lie to me all this time. The thousands of books, newspapers, magazines I have read did not bring any answer. There was just little enlightenment coming from “obscure” guys like John Updike who, in his novel “The Centaurus” gave an exceptional description of the generational conflict and the role of school in preparing youth for the big chimera of adulthood. Failing to discover the reasons I turned to simplicity. I looked into the wilderness for some hidden answers, and I found them not. Instead, I found myself again, the dreaming child who was fouled by the models of apparently successful adults.
They (I refer here to all those adults that used to be around me, friends, relatives, teachers or just unknown people) didn’t tell me what is death, and, I understand now; they did not because they themselves knew nothing about it. Instead, the adulthood threw the shadow of death over me, with the anxieties associated. Seeing my parents aging was enough to unveil the gruesome fear of an end that was set to happen. I had to struggle to accept that we all are heading in the same direction, only reaching the destinations happens at different times. Seeing my dad turning into a child again towards the end of his days among us, I understood that adulthood is some kind of trap in which we all fall unwillingly.
During my school, they taught me I was part of a great nation, not too sure now, but I remember being told it was actually the greatest, just to discover later the insignificance of the same nation in a great context. They taught me a ballad they titled “Mioritza”, which they praised to be one of the greatest creations of popular literature about a shepherd being caught in a plot conducted by two other shepherds, inflamed by envy and greediness. The other two shepherds, also apparently coming from a different geographical region, are secretly planning to assassinate the first one because he has better looking sheep. The victim is deemed to perdition, being unaware of the cruel alliance of the other two. We, the readers, already felt the pity for a cruel ending, when a miracle happens. A humble and anonymous sheep, after witnessing the plot, becomes so intrigued by the cruelty of the act that she speaks in human language. Those adults that invented and promoted this absurdity had no limits to their perfidy. They dared to even create a talking sheep! So, the now intelligent sheep comes to the supposed victim and in the most simple terms unveil the entire plot, therefore putting the poor shepherd on guard. Then the extraordinary happens. The victim to be, having now the malicious plan revealed, and being now on advantage, acts in the weirdest way one can imagine. Instead of counteracting, he complains about his faith and a whole melancholy unfolds, his future death and burial described in the most dramatic words. How could those adults present that ballad to me as it was some kind of creational myth of our nation? What did they think I learned from that stupidity? I declared it stupid, but then I discovered that was the base of Christianism, the big tribe I was part of it, the one that declared through the Bible in the verse saying: “And to him who strikes you on your cheek, offer the other, and from whoever takes away your cloak, withhold not your coat also.” Was this made up on purpose? The big promoters of the teachings of Jesus, are you ever follow any of his precepts? He looked more like an early apostle of communism, declaring the love of material things, the care for own body, the willingness to follow any [literally any] of your natural instincts, any act of keeping something for themselves, any act of revenge, hatred or tendency to love this world, as we know it, too much, as forbidden forever. The most fervent followers are doing the exact opposite. What’s wrong with you, folks?
The adults explained the world in tales, fairy tales, to be more specific, inventing characters that could not exist. They were too absurd to do so. What did they expect from us children to learn? What examples did they set up for us: mighty monsters born from the flames of hell coming on earth to still beautiful princess, only to be sent back to the flames they came from by princes that were too perfect to be real, heroes that were too inhuman to be humans?
I was told at the time that seasons is the way nature revives yearly giving birth to a new cycle that will repeat forever, in a circular movement that had no end and no beginning, but they didn’t say we are following a path that cuts straight to these cycles and goes directly to an end. They presented the winter as a magic season, of “Santas” and holy child, of great births and great times to be around your families, but they forgot to mention it will turn into the nightmare of being caught in traffic, into the horrible realm in which humanity hates rain, clouds and snow, and choose to love the sun only if shines perfectly, if it rises spectacularly on palm trees beaches of southern seas.
I have to ask why they forgot to mention that kids become adults, but they will continue to play, only this time with more dangerous and harmful toys. They never mention that a gun kills for real, and big boys around the planet are shooting real bullets at each other, and into each other, claiming the end to come nearer. They didn’t say some of them will land in such powerful positions that their play with the big toys would endanger the entire humanity. It was presented as patriotism and heroism, and I believed it was true. That was the example they asked me to follow.
Hopelessly I tried to decipher the secret code through which the adults have tried to convince me that everything I was doing as a mortal was immoral and unacceptable, as long it didn’t fit the view and the opinions of the surrounding ones, yet still they did all they had in their power to do the exact opposite.
They promised me, by the means of great teachings, of major textbooks, and the preachings of great people, that childhood was just a transitory time, a purgatory of sorts, for one that came to life with no sins, but still inheriting all the sins that can exist. They said all the sacrifices, all the time wasted to go to school, to do the homework, helped you transition to the promised adulthood. Obediently, I listened and followed whatever was to be followed, and here I am, the great adult that I am today. There was no warning that it was a trap, one in which you fall, and no matter how much you try to escape, all you do is to actually make the trap grasp you even harder. How could they promise such a big lie? They made me rush through the beautiful childhood to get to where? Here!? Damn it! You can’t play no more because you will look silly, you can’t dream no more, a day dream will make you waste time, a night dream will affect you sleep, and you’ll wake up not rested enough to keep running the rat race, to hurry into the factory where all we do is to produce more toys for the grownups, toys they will never share but egoistically will preserve for themselves.
Be careful kids, don’t rush your childhood! It’s all lies in what they’re saying. Why would rush to an inevitable end, when you can rest in the moment, to dream, to imagine, to create? And love the world, and love the others. Stay in the beauty of your age and enjoy just as it is. The adults are lying. Adulthood is a trap.
Oh folks, excuse my rage, none of you are deserving it. We are all in this. In my fury, I wanted to go to the Supreme Court; I wanted to address the United Nations; I wanted to ask for help from the mighty ones, but it’s in vain. We’re all in this. We are all old kids that fell into the trap.
I will go back to the Romanian artist, Constantin Brancusi, a child of humble peasants who awed the world with his sculptures, even though he freed himself from the wizardry of the ballad of Mioritza, which said to the world that: “When we are no longer children we are already dead.”