Infancy, childhood, adulthood, elderhood; each is a period of growth and I don’t think anyone understands one more than the next. I recently had my 20th birthday, definitively ending my childhood.
I have scattered memories of my early childhood and imperfect memories from my early teens. It wasn’t until my late teens that my perception of the world hardened into a coherent mold.
This is to be expected because one’s youth is a time of constant change, formation and reformation. Our bodies change more in our first 20 years than in any time after that. In two decades I have grown 6 feet and added about 195 pounds, a growth I doubt will be repeated in the next two decades. As profound as the change is from a lanky boy to a man, so is the change inside my head.
There is a distinct feeling to being a child — the world is constantly being discovered and one can observe vastly more revelations in their youth than in adulthood. By revelation, I mean a discovery (of what may be obvious to our elders) that leaves one with a new understanding, and also a feeling that there is no way he could have possibly seen the world any differently.
For example, when I was seven I was playing with two buckets. In the process of pouring water from one into the other I discovered that water could take the shape of any container. A fairly obvious conclusion for anyone, but in that moment, within just a few short seconds I could not remember what it was like to not know this and it felt as if I had always known it.
The process of growing up is colored by countless eureka moments. These discoveries have shaped my first 20 years. While my physical growth is slowing I can only wonder what will happen to my mental growth. I may be biased but looking back on my life so far I think there is really nothing like childhood.
I wonder if the transition from adulthood to elderhood is anything like I’m going through now?