THE SONIC BOOMER
It has occurred to me that we humans are living our lives in reverse. I don’t know if those in the animal kingdom are as screwed up, but, thanks to our superior intelligence, we seem to be doing everything backward.
We are born full of curiosity, so we are immediately strapped down — into car seats, baby carriers, high chairs, strollers — whatever it is, no one wants us getting away. Our curiosity is limited to the brightly colored objects that have been strung across our field of vision — until we learn to crawl.
Crawling is fun, but it’s not as much fun as walking. Walking is cool, but we prefer running. By the time we’re 4 or 5, our curiosity has been rekindled and we’re so full of energy we can barely contain ourselves.
Bam! This is where things get twisted. Suddenly, we are sent to school, where we are required to sit at a diminutive desk for up to six hours a day, even though we have no real “work.” Desktop “work” is invented for us, but nature knows our real work lies outside, where there are trees, creeks and fields to explore. Even in a concrete jungle, a 5-year-old wants to know what’s in the cracks. But we get through it.
Then, in our teen years, hormones start raging. An alarmed society tells us it’s best if we have nothing to do with sex. Hormones are responsible for populating the entire Earth, and this is the thanks they get. Did society’s leaders forget where they came from? Still, the average teen survives.
In our late teens and early 20s, we have the option to leave school, but for many of us, the desk is all we know. We innocently opt to put in more time behind a desk at college. When all is said and done, we’ve gained four more years of knowledge but lost four more years of experience.
The 30s are a little better. Not everyone chooses a desk job, and thanks to them, we have bridges, buildings and trash pickup. Occasionally, someone will know how to fix a car or set a broken bone. The desk people may have planned it, but the doers did it. Magical!
People who have reached their 40s are usually responsible for a kid or two, so they keep their noses to the grindstone. If one of them breaks free and decides to buy a surfboard, we call that a “midlife crisis.” In your 40s, anything fun is labeled a “crisis.” Sports car? Crisis. Harley? Crisis. Trophy wife? Crisis. I don’t see how waking up one day and realizing your life is half over is so wrong. “Midlife reality check,” maybe that’s what we should call it.
By the time people are in their 50s, they are already looking forward to retirement. They are dreaming of doing everything they didn’t have time to do before. But, like I said, we’re living in reverse. At 50, the body is starting to rebel. People are getting aches and pains that make them think twice about climbing Mount Everest. By age 60, falling off a motorcycle could cause some lasting damage. And hardly anyone over 70 goes bungee-jumping. Safety harnesses and straps seem like a good idea, even around the house.
This is where today’s economy is a boon to mankind. Previously, young people couldn’t do the fun stuff because they were busy going to college or earning a living. Now, their lives are their own! The cost of college has kept many from behind desks, as have cutbacks at the office. It’s a fabulous opportunity to run or jump or simply explore that crack in the sidewalk.
If you’re lucky, you might find a penny.