One of these is timelessness, during which those of us who get this far in life can “act” any age that we feel like. This is particularly true if one has grandchildren, or can borrow one for some creative play time. Usually this behavior goes unnoticed, and we are commended for being adaptable enough to show a child a good time.
Little do they know that we become children, if for only a little while. I prefer activities in the craft area, armed with colored writing materials (water soluble. I don’t want trouble) My pay for all this is first, to relive happy parts of my own childhood, and second, to be paid with the smiles and shrieks of laughter which accompany these times, until Mom has had enough and drags my small companion away for a nap. She had a good idea. Naps are good for you. But I would hate to dismiss my inner child. Losing him might be a stumbling block for me in this experiment.
When the poet ee cummings (he rarely used upper case letters) wrote this about his own inner child, he described mine too: "along the brittle treacherous bright streets of memory comes my heart, singing like an idiot, whispering like a drunken man, who (at a certain corner, suddenly) meets the tall policeman of my mind." That’s how it feels to be told to “Act your age.”
But after thinking it over, I have decided to accept the advice, even though it has come from one of those unhappy people who were never children themselves. I will try to act my age. But which age is that? I have been many ages. It’s puzzling.
What I demand in return is that my years be fungible, that I could choose the time and the place to spend my seventy plus years. I wouldn’t even have to “act.” The roles I would assume are easy details to be worked out. If more people could do that, in the virtual time machine of their minds, more people would recognize the importance of history.
I found a fungible time in Kenneth C. Davis’s “Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.” In chapter 4, ominously titled “Apocalypse Then” he writes:
“The space of time separating George Washington’s first inauguration in April 1789 from Lincoln’s first in March 1861 was only seventy-two years, a mote in the eye of history. But that slice of history contained extraordinary events. From a third-rate republic, a sliver of sparsely populated seaboard extending inland from the Atlantic for a few hundred miles, threatened by foreign powers and dangerous Indian tribes, America had become a pulsing, burgeoning world economic power whose lands stretched across the entire continent.”
Sounds like an exciting time to be alive; however, I would prefer a time without war. I would have to compromise.
The Revolutionary War was over by that time. And one huge acquisition of land was the result not of war but of a signed agreement, when in 1803, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to America, and doubled the size of the United States for $15 million dollars, about four cents an acre.
Unpleasant things did happen, like a three-year war with England, barbaric disenfranchisement of native Americans, and the advancement of slavery. Maybe I could avoid all that.
I couldn’t avoid the two-year Mexican war (1846-48), which, when we won, gave us 500,000 square miles, including the future states of California, Nevada and Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and some parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Texas.
I would avoid the terrible Civil War that almost tore our country in two. I would also avoid both World Wars and our questionable involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan and who knows what is coming next?
All I lack now is the means to get back there. I would need some time to grow up. Then I could spend the rest of my time acting my age, whatever that means. I’m looking forward to it.