Getting a lease - copyright XKCD

Growing down

Yesterday it was my birthday, so I took a short pause from the usual ludic and literary discourse to simply celebrate myself with some all-you-can-eat sushi. That was well deserved and perfect for the occasion. But enough about me and my culinary journeys. Now I am back, and ready to fall into the deep meditation of what growing up, or rather growing down, means.

TWENTYOHFOUR fat years. So do I fell wiser on this occasion? More socially agile? Hell no, if I could write my way through life with concentrated notes on everyone’s fridges or e-mail addresses I’d do it. And when I’m sitting with people at a table talking about politics I’m usually thinking about unicorns of some sort. And when I’m supposed to meet new people I always picture myself poking their eyes out with my pinky finger and then running away to hide under a couch. I never do it though. I’m quite a good faker – I can hide my social panic if not under social exuberance, at least under social passivity.

Has my universe expanded, did my neurons form a thick sturdy network to generate brilliant ideas that can be devoured successfully by the outer world on the fly? No, not really. I mean, I’m pretty sure I enjoy sensory experiences like touching and chewing stuff even more than when I was a toddler. And now I have the advantage that I can be completely absorbed in my task. As for exploring abstract ideas with my mind, I can go only so far as reaching nothingness, panicking and then thinking about teddybears to scare away the painful facts of human limitations. I can’t formulate a coherent opinion in less than two seconds. My mind works like a viscous goo, trying to encompass any concept like a hungry amoeba and only then can it generate some useful leftovers.

I play more video games than when I was younger, because now, as an ‘adult’ I can conveniently afford them. I’ve also learned to swim and cycle somewhat, an experience I never quite managed to grasp properly as a kid raised in front of the computer. I’m slowly developing the skills to play properly. I think I’m readying myself for the  time when even my body will play tricks on me.

Ow yes, and I’ve also had some experiments in trying to take care of myself on my own. I realized I cannot do it unless I’m quantifying everything with checklists, scales, centimeters and timers. I need a way to objectify myself, otherwise I could get lost in my own subjectivity. Or lack of sense, I’m not sure which of them yet.

Overall, growing up is the numbing and tiring experience of growing down. Your mind develops only to let you realize you enjoy the same childish things at a different level. It’s not a superior level, but it’s a superior experience because you can now really identify with it. That’s where all the nostalgia for LEGO blocks comes from. And the frustration in front of all the toy wonders democracy brought and communism made you believe they didn’t exist. You simply grow and stoop over your own childhood, in contemplation, until you finally stumble over it. Then comes either the panicking nothingness, or toy heaven or toy hell, or everything starts over again (choose your poison religion).

So, Ana, any regrets? Never.

Any hopes and plans for the future? I think I’ll reflect more upon my childhood, until it will suck me back in.

Ana Todor is a Computer Scientist with a playful and literary twist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, Digital Interactive Entertainment.

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