Why I’m glad I’m not a teenager anymore.
A toddler will be entertained with a zipper for an hour. Teenagers enjoy socializing with friends at the mall. Old ladies love flowers. People of all ages play golf. Different hobbies entertain all different kinds of people. The way a person spends their time differs with age and is related to the freedom we perceive.
While watching ‘Lost in Translation’ I noted the age of the two main characters and their situations that put them in a similar place to cross paths. The difference between the two characters was how they entertained themselves during free time. Scarlett Johansson’s character enjoyed self-help books on tape. Travels in a new city lead her to Buddhist temples and flowering dog trees in the tea forests of Japan. Bill Murphy’s character mocked the job that brought him to Tokyo and spent time golfing or floating around the pool in between spending nights at the hotel bar. The bar is where Johansson and Murray meet to exchange an automatic, almost too familiar, connection that brings the rest of the movie to life.
This comparison of characters began to paint lines in my observations dividing age and the differences in how time was spent during different times of life.
When I think of life without responsibility, no worry, free-minded, untethered people I think of a little boy I spied on once. The memory is a battle between a boy and a bush. The bush is winning, woody branches have grown taller than the boy’s front porch and he is in full combat. Swinging his bat to the base of this plant, the boy charges into its leafy arms, only to get whipped in the face by an elastic arm. But, he isn’t giving up. One more spin move, his dance electrified from the open grass he stomps, and he is full fledge back into the hedge. It looked like fun, therapeutic, to throw yourself into your front beds and to come out alive! A better man. So went his routine until dinner time, a guaranteed event to cut the fun short. The shrubs don’t stand in the way of anything we need, any security of food or home, and if we were to look at the situation for enjoyment you see he only got caught in imagination, the bush was an army against him and he was able to take it on. It was time for the play that determined the outcome. Everyone needs this time to realize day dreams. He acts because there isn’t a bargain for time. There is ample time –and too much of it frankly, waiting around for the adults to catch on.
I remember a time growing up when all of my belongings were cataloged, my tapes were a collection of radio recorded songs that I had the patience to wait for and then alphabetize. I remember that I also collected paint chips from Wal-Mart, drawing the same ranch-style dream home over and over. There were Barbie empire weekends, designed to keep our younger brother out of the room, and Lego land. My sister and I built precisely with every plastic block, taking so long we never did play or act in Lego land. These times were in lazy summers, the ones that don’t exist into your late twenties. After college, you are lucky to plan free days about one weekend a month when you must plan to do nothing at all.
So, six-year-olds are content to make enemies out of the hedgerow all day and build lands that won’t ever be played with. The next years of life begin to incorporate learning how to survive, including a job, perhaps an education, volunteering, boards of the local do-good venture, service, kids, food, house, etc…an endless amount of things piled on until the strain of our body contorts us. We become stressed out people who need to find a balance in all of this abundance. Life becomes faster.
To ‘slow’ it down we must strike a balance. Consciously let yourself go unplanned as you get older and realize that this is how the young and the wiser spend their time, proving that success happens on the inside. It takes age to grow into that confidence.
If a different path presents itself this opportunity causes a personal evaluation. If a chance arrives to seek your profession, refine your gifts, or be influenced into a new search, then change. What a teeming experiment being mildly distracted is. Step back and be conscious of the situation you are working for. Write about it. Perhaps there are goals to obtain and change is initiated by your own determination. Young adults growing into their forties are finally free to roam different paths and they begin to mold into unexpected grooves.
These adults seem to know how to enjoy their free time, dinners with the family, watching a show, traveling to the sun, relaxing in a way that has become common to them. They are involved with children and a school community while taking upon the responsibility of friends. Desires and hobbies turn into volunteering. Finally comfortable with who they are, adults partake for the second time in their life an unprescribed happiness. The imagination leads them. The lingering uncertainty allows room for being flexible in the moment. Not only does getting older provide an acceptance into retirement, we also grow into the customs of our aging mind. ‘Territoriality in humans is more related to the needs of self-identity and freedom of choice.’ a
Youthful life is devoted to finding something to define yourself by –and if you are lucky you may find it in good work. This age group is busy trying to find out what will sustain them. It’s age in the mid-twenties before one begins to worry about supporting their enjoyments and securing a future. That is, securing a future within the pressures of what our society expects of us. But, for those who want something more, who are thirsty for helping, climbing, experiencing, working, searching, the searching becomes equally exhaustive because there are a lot of options. If a young adult doesn’t have a firm grasp on how to control, stabilize and finance themselves by this age, they’d better catch on quickly. Work becomes a time to enhance our personal being through what we do. If one isn’t fulfilled in what they do, this generation of workers, staring around year 2000, isn’t afraid of moving to make the change. So, for the young working adult, we spend our time trying to earn worth out of our work. Once through this life period, aged adults begin to enjoy more time with their family, invite the neighbors over, and relax by playing tennis. Free time spent during one period transitions into something else. Take note of how an older generation passes the time. Perhaps they have fulfillment figured out.
The ability to realign yourself and alter or deepen the path you are on seems to get harder and harder the older people become. You receive the experience of a working adult. Other people’s opinions have steadfast influence. This can become more and more complicated unless you find a way of dealing with it. Thinking things out and giving yourself time to do so until they are no longer problems, is necessary. Financially, entertainment, enjoyment… are we not lucky that these are our needs? I have riches in food, shelter, and safety. This is what the older person has determined for themselves and are therefore enjoying in the time of fifty years.
Getting older means that one year is fractionally less and less of your time. As these responsibilities and obligations add up the more the busy-ness seems like nonsense. Amidst searching for yourself you begin to give up! What we should do instead of allowing responsibilities to impede, is take time to digest and order the things that are important.
If there are a few things to keep in order, make a quick list. My list begins with my health and house. Eat healthy, have fun with friends and incorporate exercise into your ever becoming sedentary way of life. There are family obligations, friends’ weddings, babies, career change, moves, layoffs and opportunities galore. Enjoy.
I want to have the ability to watch over myself. Goals of the day make big resolutions for the week and fare well when they stack up into years. I try to be myself everyday. I do that by taking the time to be conscious of myself in an honest evaluation. Only I am in control of where I put myself, and only I can enjoy the free time I allow myself to have.