Our childhood is like the first lift of a roller coaster, the very first time you experience a thrill ride of this scale. It takes what seems like forever to get to the top. While it’s scary, you’re headed up the entire time, and while you can’t see much past the peak, the drop is inevitable and even desired, in a twisted sort of way. Adolescence is that brief moment in time when you’re at the top of the first peak, manically exhilarated by being at the top of this massive hill you’ve slowly trounched up — having absolutely nothing to do with your own momentum and everything to do with a lift in place before you even got there — and ready to the point of obsession to free fall into adulthood. And then, well, then you’re on the ride.
Up, down, down, up, upside down, and around, and around, life flies by and your stomach drops with every unexpected jolt. And then, the ride comes to a halt, slowing down briefly before pulling into the station, and you’re done.
It would be a lie for me to say I miss my childhood immensely, because I was miserable during my childhood and wanted more than anything to escape that first long lift hill and experience some kind of freedom. I was always intimately aware of the coming fall, so I didn’t have much patience for the tender slowness of youth. Let’s get on with it, I thought, let’s just jump to the spirited part of the ride instead of trudging along on this godforsaken lift.
And here I am – miss early 30s – miss life is melting away as I fling from side to side; trying to keep up with the pace of this coaster without being flung off, I do my darnedest to be good enough to maintain the pace. Today, my life is all about work. “Tomorrow,” maybe it will be all about my own “children.” Yet not until that brief pause before the end of the ride, if I’m lucky enough to have one, will it be about that slow, vaguely tormented experience of gluttonous time. The all-you-can-eat buffet of seconds ticking ever-so slowly around the clock. That’s over with. You’re an adult and you’re in free fall until the very end.
There is the good of it all as well – there is no limits beyond gravity, origin and capital to sourcing opportunity – there’s an infinite number of paths one can take at any given moment, none really right or wrong. There is the moments on the ride when, despite it’s chaotic forces shoving you around, you feel like you’re flying, and finally free. Those are the moments life is worth living for, it seems, yet they are fewer and farther in between. Who has time for moments when life keeps you busy with the details?
So, the depression of mine lingers on, this year taking the shape in the form of overwhelm – of acknowledgement that I am not suited for what it is that I do, yet also trying so desperately to succeed as in the pit of my stomach I know yet another failure would be futile. I make mistakes constantly, yet occasionally there is a sliver of success which buys me another day to sort out the variety of misgivings I may have in my career and daily production. But this polish does not buy much time at all. It is a never-ending race for quantifiable results, these small wins, to plug the holes in the eternally seeping bucket of success.
The true question here is – how long can I actually last before the next drop on this ride? Some of this is in my control, but not much of it, as I’m limited by IQ, focus, and resources, though mostly IQ. I can’t solve for my own incoherance or inability to communicate concepts. I can only work hard, get to work early and stay late, try to solve for that which I can effectively improve, and hire the best talent to understand all the many things I do not.
What I wonder, though, is if any speed of life would soothe me – if living in a sleepy rural town would bore me to tears yet being caught up in the urban vines of a metropolis brings me close to spontaneous self combustion, maybe there is no source of satisfaction beyond awareness and pushing forth down the path I’ve already forged, to see how long I can hang on to this crazy, uncomfortable, yet thrilling life.