Life at Three

Sometimes, I look backward. It's my favorite pastime rivaled only by speculating on what is to come.

Somehow, my life has been getting more complicated without me noticing. Every month or so I realise that I'm concerned with something new. Now and again I realise I'm not who I once was.

Within me there is a deep seated wish to be three years old again. This has been with me since I reached twelve and true complication began to creep into life. There had been complications before then, new responsibilities and expectations, but these had come slowly and in small doses. At twelve, there was an illumination as to all that had snuck into my life, and all that was to come.

Life is simple at three. You're too young to be moral, but old enough to have wishes, desires, and dreams. To a three year old, the ideas of obstacles on the path of life consist of colds, flus, and the occaisional punishment from a parent (or maybe more than occaisional). Aside from those trivialities, the only thing seperating you from whatever world you wish to craft and mold to your liking is your imagination.

Now I sit here, concerned with getting a job, finishing my college projects, worried about family, and wishing for a significant other. When did all this complication come into things?

At three, everything is awe inspiring. Daddy's incredible strength, the fact that the TV could possibly display me as opposed to a cartoon, the fresh green grass, the frigid snow, that Mario can jump on mushrooms and turtles and get points... all of it inspired awe. The only thing not awe inspiring at age three was Mommy's cooking.

The irony of that now that I sit here at college desperately scrounging up food is painful. Cooking for myself, what a crazy notion that was at three. Sure, I'd cooked scrambled eggs, but that was for fun and the eating was secondary. Mommy always made dinner, and while the hamburgers were great I wasn't so fond of anything green.

Now the sight of well made peas or green beans is mouth watering on a level I could never have understood pre-college.

The age of three is a golden age unto itself, an age of true innocence. After four a downhill spiral ensues. Pre-school and school start, and responsibility begins. Worry sets itself into motion, and before you notice it has set up a nice mafiaesque regime within your mind. Before all of that, you have the age of three. There isn't much difference between girls and boys then, no cooties to speak of or reasons to shy away from the other. The culture of age three is a true picture of the minds of children, only blurred by whatever TV show they are currently obsessed with.

Magic existed at age three. Every tree, bush, and rock could magically become whatever it needed to be. A fortress, a castle, an ogre, a spaceship, an alien menace, anything. The world around was so full of magic you too could become anything, a baseball star, a knight, an astronaut, a dragon, or the alien menace your friends had to fight.

I miss those days, maybe because I miss innocence, or maybe because I miss the days when my friends and my greatest problem revolved around whether we could convince our parents to take us to the park. Regardless, there is something about the little me I remember from all those years ago, almost twenty now, that I cherish.

I still remember when I was only ten reminiscing about those day with my best friend. His mother swore we sounded like a pair of old men. Now, were I to go back in time to meet myself at three, I wouldn't even recognize myself. I, as a child, would write me off as another adult, wholly incapable of the levels of hyperactivity and imagination necessary to be a child.

This is not to say I am without energy or imagination, but those have long since fallen into the realms of work (I spend so much of my days sitting in class, in computer labs, and just in general it's rather sad) and order. My imagination is far more ordered and lawful than it once was.

The imagination of a child has a law unto itself. Everything makes sense, to the child, but were any adult to look upon it they would write it off as nonsense. To a child, nonsense is sense, and common sense is a hinderance to living.

Perhaps what I miss most is simply the ability to take anything mundane and turn it into adventure. The number of adventures I had in my own backyard were countless, and yet it was always the same backyard. Any adult would get bored of trying to come up with new adventures in an unchanging landscape.

I could fake being three again, force myself to imagine my keyboard is the control panel for the spaceship of my apartment, and pretend I'm blasting off into the fifth quardrant of the gamma sector. But yet, that would all be a lie. Not a lie in the sense that the imagined world I would be creating isn't true, but in the sense that what I would be doing wouldn't even be a shadow of what I did as a child.

As it is, I must simply accept that I am twenty-one. Nineteen years have passed since my first memory of thanking my grandmother for a present she gave me on my second birthday (as ordered by my mother). That memory grows foggy, as do so many others. What once were images and sounds and feelings become words. I can reforge approximations, but eventually all I'll have are forged replacements for the truth of those long past times. Some are strong enough to endure, but many like that first memory will not.

In the end, I am twenty-one. I'm older than I've ever been, and now I'm even older. If I actually had the chance to be three again, I'd decline. For all the compication that is life for me now, to think about giving up the concerns I have for all that is important to me is unthinkable. To lose all of the spiritual gain I have made in eighteen years just for the sake of innocence is too silly to actually do. The past is useful as a roadmap to show us who we were, and nice to gaze at occaisionally. As it stands, we are in the present and must act accordingly.

Besides, one day I'll have a son who'll be in awe of Daddy's strength.

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