When you are a kid, you feel life as you know it is the only kind of life out there. You feel safe and content. What we lose when we grow up is that sense of security, belongingness and permanence. The feeling of inadequacy comes only when one becomes an adult.
There were days I spent chasing butterflies in my garden, and days when I sat and watched the rain. There were also days when one enjoys existence just for the sake of it. But as they say, growing up takes away the fun in everything. It is a painful process of reluctantly participating in societal and economic roles. If your actions don’t have a monetary side to them, it’s deemed unproductive and you are accused of wasting your life. Whether it’s a career or marriage — as an adult you have to get into an economic agreement.
When I think about the first 11 years of my life, it feels like a long, uninterrupted meditation – the highlight of which was the luxury of sitting idly. I grew up in a small village in Kerala, without the burden of private tuition or extra classes. Days were long and time was plenty. As I grew up, I noticed that life was becoming a mere exercise of undertaking tasks. Meeting deadlines, finishing assignments, binge-watching — everything is mechanical.
Karl Marx writes about alienation as an important consequence of living under capitalism — alienation from nature and alienation from ourselves included. In that sense, childhood was the most liberated I have ever felt in my life. Now, life as a fresh graduate in a post-pandemic world that is going through a climate crisis is nothing short of chaos. It is scary how our lives can change so quickly, for better or worse. Even if it changes for the better, you still live with a void in your heart. I think it happens to every adult as if they have lost a piece of themselves somewhere. If you think about it long enough you will cry.
I still don’t understand whether I have grown up to be more myself or whether growing up was that painful journey of abandoning myself and becoming the one the world told me to be. But does growing up make any sense to anybody? We are here and just awkwardly standing in a corner because we don’t have many options.
Whenever someone asks me what I want to do in life I think and the answer that comes out is, “I want to get a job”, or “travel the world”. But I don’t truly want that. All I want life to be is, how it used to be. Living forever in perfect rainy days. As Pablo Neruda wrote, I want to open my eyes to “life, the land, poetry, and the rain”. I can’t stand change and I can’t stand nostalgia. I have lived in limbo for the past decade, the in-between where life has either already happened or going to happen.