I know a 12-year-old boy who talks in that way that 6th graders, not yet all the way jilted or closed off, are sometimes given to: un-self consciously, without filters. The week before Valentine's Day (in response to my queries about his crushes and what he was planning to do about them) he explained to me, in a very serious and educational manner, how these things work. He told me what you do and what you don't just go and DO (duh.). Ultimately, he conveyed that it's complicated.
I could listen to him for days. Not when he's talking about video games probably. Maybe not when he's talking about LEGO kits. But when he's talking about life and his thoughts on it and how he sees things? I could let him go on and on.
While I can remember the events--the traumas and the minor victories of the middle school years, it is very difficult to put myself back in the mindset. It's hard to remember there was a time when running out of hair gel in the morning was enough to visibly dishearten and dismay; it's hard to remember that such simple troubles could ever have loomed so large.
So in a way, listening to and talking with the "tween" in question borders on therapy for me. The incredibly transitory nature of some of the problems that concern him most remind me that all problems and stages and heartaches are, indeed, transitory--even at my age. And he reminds me of the time when I had no idea that 95% of my limitations were self-inflicted.
He is still totally open to the experience of it--to the absolute possibility of life.
The other day, this boy asked me what I would wish for if I knew the wish, when granted, would only last for one single day. He's good at this: these hypothetical scenario or Would You Rather-type questions. And this was a difficult one. No single experience I could imagine seemed worthy of the wish's potential promise.
After some thought, I told him that I would wish to live a day in the experience of my actualized self. I explained to him a simplified version of the concept of an "actualized" self: the person you would be if you were doing everything you were born to do--utilizing and sharing your talents, thriving, living in absolute accord with your heart's desires and within your moral code, being your full, fierce, fearless self.
I said I felt if I could see what I was engaged in on that day--what I was doing for work and how I was spending my time--maybe I'd have an idea how to get there from where I am now. I would stop in the middle of that day and likely say to myself, "Of course. Of course this is what I was born to do." The thought of getting to that point is exhilarating. But the short cut aspect of getting there via One Day Wish, while appealing, feels like cheating.
I will get there, though.
I asked my young friend what he thinks his actualized self would be doing. He said he had no idea. I asked him what he's good at and what he loves to do most. He said he doesn't think he really knows yet. Good for him. That just means that ALL the doors are still all the way open for him. He will try some things and love them, some for all of 12 seconds, some for years. And all along the way he will get to know himself better, and he will decide who and what he is here to offer this world.
His asking the question reminded me that the same remains true for me, and for you, too.