When you are young, you can’t wait until you are in charge, until you can make decisions about your own life, about your own schedule, about how you will spend your hours, your days, your life, your paycheck.
You make life choices, whether conscious or unconscious and then you live with them.
And then when you are forty-five, you look around and realize that almost every bit of your life, every minute of every hour, every effort you expend belongs to someone else. You wash clothes you don’t wear and cook meals you don’t eat and attend sports practices you only watch. You buy snacks you don’t like and wash forks you didn’t use and iron pants that don’t belong to you.
You deliver other people to other places to participate in events that exclude you.
You worry about situations that will affect other people. You don’t care too much how the outcome changes you but you care because of the others. They matter.
You slice and dice up bits of your heart and life and give them away and wonder, in the end, if you’ll have anything left over, if the lunch you’ve offered to to share will actually feed five thousand.
When you are young, you steer your life in a certain lane, take a particular exit and you don’t realize that you’ll never again wake up in the morning with only thoughts of yourself. You’ll never face an entire empty day full of possibilities and choices because everything you think and everything you do tilts the orbits of other people circling you. You are anchored. You are snared. You wake up in the night because other people wake up in the night and say your name.
Part of you wants to use giant shears to cut yourself loose but the other part of you finds the web you’ve spun to be a lovely, soft nest. You’re swaddled tightly and the immobility soothes you.
But all the same, you want to shout back to your distant self a warning to savor those days when you think you are so busy because you have to meet a school deadline. That is freedom. You just don’t understand that then because you aren’t paying the mortgage.
Welcome to adulthood.