The World Needs Adults
“A present-day person aspiring to find a true way of life will meet all the problems of modern society. Human progress is by no means the same as the advancement of natural science; nor does it follow the path of the development of material civilization. Human progress lies in each and every human being becoming an adult.” Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice by Kosho Uchiyama, p. 136
I have always striven to act as an adult. It started when I was treated like a little kid, even though I was in my twenties. I don’t want to give people an excuse to dismiss me or what I say due to bad behavior on my part.
Then I got married. Something bad would happen, such as needing a new engine. I would emotionally break down. Then Barry would react to my breakdown. I learned extremely quickly that I then had two problems: the original real problem and now having to deal with Barry’s reaction to my feelings. I learned instantly to keep my feelings to myself. I learned to lean on my friends somewhere away from Barry. It’s fine to have feelings; just do it somewhere else. This situation persists and is exacerbated by Barry’s Huntington’s Disease. I am always preventing him from encountering things he cannot handle, which now includes pretty much everything. I have to be vigilant to stay at least two steps ahead of him at all times. It is exhausting, but the alternative of him freaking out is so much worse.
I have seen over the years that life is not so much what happens to you as how you handle it. Look at Donald Trump. He is such an arrogant bastard, but he has gone broke at least once and overcome it. He always gets back on his feet. I respect that. I have seen people destroyed by stupid crap and seen other people overcome bizarre obstacles.
Being an adult does not mean having no feelings. To me, it means: having the feelings, processing the feelings in a safe environment, and then deciding what to do next.
I play the “Then what?” game. Say you do A. Okay. Then what? You do B. Okay. Then what? Whether A or B are good or bad decisions, the game continues for the rest of your life. There is no end, not even death, in my opinion. Our energy continues in some form or another. I once read a book called “Makes Me Wanna Holler.” The author shares his journey from making stupid choices to making better ones. When he was young, he shot someone. What did he do afterwards? He went home. It never occurred what he could or should do after shooting someone. The cops had no problem finding him, idiot he was at the time. The rest of the book was his story of how he started learning and making better choices.
I have no problems with making mistakes. The only way not to make any mistakes is to never do anything at all. My problem is with making mistakes and then proceeding to learn nothing. To not learn is to choose perpetual childhood, always seeking to be taken care of, always looking for someone else to absorb the consequences of one’s actions. Such a choice is completely understandable. Not respectable, but understandable. The world does not need any more overgrown children. We have a lot of problems and it’s going to take a whole lot of adults to come up with and implement the necessary solutions (and listen to the childish whinings of those who want to experience no consequences of their own making). Someone has to put their shoulder to the wheel and do the dirty work. I want to be part of the solutions, not pretending that the problems don’t exist.