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2012 Fall Issue 3 (October 5, 2012)

Growing Up, Growing Old

October 6, 2012
By Michael Goodgame

Every few months, I become a new person. 

Not all at once, and not in a “born again” sort of way.  It’s a gradual transformation: over time, my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about the world and how I fit into it seem to shift.  With each shift, it feels like I’m progressing, for the changes are almost always for the better.  The “transformations,” if you will, are spurred on by whatever new philosophies I am exposed to or that I dream up, and the general goal is usually to help me live better or to help others do the same.  This makes for a sort of path.  I may slow down or stumble on the path, but I won’t turn back.  My destination is somewhere ahead. 

I am willing to bet that barely any of this is noticeable to anyone with the possible exception of those very close to me.  This is because the changes occur exclusively in my own mind and only affect the way I act in very subtle ways.  More importantly and more often, they affect the way I think and what I think about. 

What transforms the most is my general outlook on life, the lens through which I see the world.  This may sound vague, but it must be so.  Everybody has an idea of The World, a huge, unimaginably complex entity, in his or her head.  This is difficult to think about because it violates the very principle I’m trying to explain – one must go outside of their world briefly to realize that other people may live in their own.

For me, this perspective is always on the move.  I’m not going to write about my actual view of The World or myself, mainly because my columns are due by Wednesday, it’s Wednesday night at 11:42 PM, and that would take more than a few hundred words.

Instead, I want to talk about this mental improvement and how it relates to growing up and aging.  At nineteen years old, I surely have a long way to go before I can really be called a mature adult.  A common question for college students: when will I know?  When will I take a step back from real life and realize that I’m old? 

I suspect that it has something to do with the constant change I’ve been discussing.  Getting older means losing this feeling of relentless mental transformation, slowing down somewhere on my endless philosophical quest.  Every few months will become every ten years.  Maybe somewhere it will stop.  This is a sad truth that I think constitutes much of the sad adult population that lives through every day tired, bedraggled, dead because they’ve stopped moving.

Of course, I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about.  I haven’t been there.  This is my theory, and maybe it will pass with the next mental revelation ca. January 2013.  The only way to find out is to keep going.

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