When I was a child, I was an artist – I created a jungle scene out of pastels that I still vividly remember. I was a singer – during the kindergarten performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas, with twelve children singing “Twelve drummers drumming,” eleven children singing, “Eleven pipers piping,” and so on, I sang, “And a partridge in a pair tree.” I was an entrepreneur – I opened a bank in my bedroom.
I was free to explore – the greatest gift of childhood – though I was not free to execute my pursuits on the grand scale I imagined – the greatest frustration of childhood. I couldn’t wait to be an adult. When I was adult, I would finally have the freedom to make my own decisions, to manifest my free will.
When I moved to San Francisco, a place of reinvention, I tried on different jobs – largely a consequence of economic circumstances – and I lived on my own. I could read into the night with no one to tell me go to bed. Adulthood was what I imagined; that is, if I could only manage to remember what I had imagined. I had gained my autonomy, but lost my inspiration to the point where I could hardly remember what it was I was going to do with my autonomy in the first place.
I was no longer an artist or an entrepreneur. I was an office worker. I showed up at a set time, I left when the work was done. I fit in. I maneuvered. I survived. I experienced lay-offs, relationship break-ups, and five different apartments in six years. Life was rich in experiences, but I felt directionless. I wanted to reach the end – the place where I would feel like I had arrived – but I wanted to hold on to the present; I felt inadequate that I had not achieved more sooner.
“Is this it?” I began to ask myself. “The back and forth, back and forth, until one day is interchangeable with the next? Will I become so consumed with the day-to-day insults to dignity that they will crowd out of my memory of what I imagined I could become? Am I too old?”
I answered myself with a resolute, “No.” I am not too old, or too this, or too that. I am just right. I am just where I need to be – a balance of the creativity of the child and the experience of an adult – the balance needed to execute my imagination.