The Pleasures of Growing Older?

I remember a time not too long ago, when I yearned to be older. Not much older, just old enough for my parents to take what I say seriously, and not just simple brush it off as innocence, naivete, or ramblings of youth. Now, at 20, I realise that parents never really stop viewing their children as children, and will always consider some things their children say that way. Things like ‘you’re not old enough’ or ‘wait until you have your own children’ are probably what one would come across being uttered by their parents while growing up.

Growing up do have its pleasures; increased freedom, being the most important (and probably the only worthwhile one) of them. On the flip side, we find ourselves piled with heavier responsibilities and expectations, as what happens when society begins to recognize you as an adult. Gone are the student fares, childhood friends, scholarships and youth camps, replaced with the hassle of adjusting to the workforce and the rigid constraints and rules of the adult world.

There is an aspect nested inside me who really does not want to grow up. This aspect enjoys the innocence of childhood, where everything is so mystical and interesting. Growing up replaces this magical feeling with the rigid walls of the adult mindset, who seeks to impose their order in this universe. A mindset where rigour, logic and profitability is heavily valued, where creativity and imagination is very much more of a second thought. How much of this is due the advent of science, and how much is not? We cannot be sure.

Science is a wonderful thing. It has given us many wonders; the fire, the engine, the telephone, the aeroplane, the computer, and the promise of many more wonderful inventions to come. But most importantly, it has given us the ability to predict, to impose order on this seemingly disorderly universe. It has opened the door for humans to harness and manipulate this disorder into a form which benefits us.

But of course, science is not the only tool man has used to shape the universe to his will. There are other forces at play; a force known as legal enforcement. The definition of a state differs according to who you ask. However, perhaps the one aspect they all agree upon, is that the state has to maintain a monopoly on legal violence. Oh, did I say violence? I meant legal enforcement.

In the history of legal enforcement, the law has always been upheld with the threat of violence, or what we prefer to call, punishment. The law is supposed to exist to protect the rights of the disadvantaged from being abused by others. However, the perception on who is ‘disadvantaged’ changes according to the times and tide. One second, it is the weak that is disadvantaged, the other, it is the strong.

Thus, law upon law is piled upon one another, never quite reaching perfection. We would like to believe that it is, that the laws are reaching perfection, that we would one day all be equal, that a system that have worked for millennia will continue to work and will one day be perfected. Very idealistic? But of course, all of us are, for we all wait in inaction for a miracle to happen.

So, our freedom to act is shackled by the institution we praise as the law; our freedom to think is chained by the knowledge that has come before us, the logic known as science. What more do we have left for ourselves? The delusion known as the ‘good old days’ and our escapist imagination, hoping that one day, perhaps in our lifetime, but more than likely (greater than a great many degrees of nine) not, this utopia of ours will arrive, and we will be in complete contention. Most people prefer to escape in another way though, through the promise of utopia known as religion.

Is this what growing older is about? Perhaps Peter Pan was right after all..


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