All about the terrible freedom of adulthood
As they say, “If I may be personal for a moment ...”
It is now thirty years since I left school and, when I went to visit some twenty-five years ago, I was shocked by how vast the building had become. There were new buildings and extensions standing in the woods where my classmates and I had played, fought or just gone to to spend time quietly away from the hubbub of the school. Worse than that, though, I felt actual sadness to think of these childhood memories, in effect, being built over. Stupid maybe, but there it was.
I think we all can feel like that when we go back to places that once meant a lot to us, like the house where we grew up or the countryside surrounding a favourite uncle or aunt’s house. But, going back for a moment to the episode I started with, I found I was briefly overwhelmed.
Stepping inside the main building, I felt a sense of poignancy. How many times had I and my classmates walked through this very door, decades ago, without a second thought? However, I was no longer part of this school, which once had been the centre of my world. Now, I was very definitely a temporary member – and, for a short time, it hurt. It hurt.
All this ended up inspiring a poem ten, fifteen years later: “A Walk Through the Infinite” (from my Kindle collection “On the Road to Infinity”). It was incredibly cathartic finally being able to write about it and work it out of my system.
I’ve drivelled on more than enough about my personal experiences, so I’ll try to avoid writing “I” again in this post. Yes, you can wake up now at the back of the classroom (and the front, and the middle, and the sides)!
When we’re children we are – or should be – carefree. We certainly lose this, and our innocence, as we grow up, but we gain things too, such as the ability to shape our own destinies, to take responsibility for ourselves. We may have worries about our future, but we have control over it. Or, at least, more control than when we were young and entirely dependent on adults.
Does this make up for what novelist and poet Magdalena Ball described as “the terrible freedom of adulthood”? On the whole, I’d say yes (sorry to say “I” again).