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Kids grow up so fast. One minute they’re playing pokemon and talking incessantly, the next minute they’re ready to kill themselves after working 60 hour weeks to support the family they never expected to have. What a wonderful world!

Growing up has been a theme in all aspects of human culture for thousands of years. Literature, myth, religion, art, much of it has had something to tell us about what it means to pass from Childhood to Adulthood. You’ve got your Jesus with his God-the-Father, your Icarus and Daedalus, your Phaethons and Helioses, and so many more that inform us, in varying ways, about what it means to become an adult. We all start out wishing we could just skip childhood and join our parents as equals. It seems like such a glamorous life. You can go out whenever you want, drive a car, tell people what to do, buy things, and watch R rated movies. The sad news, that we learn all too late, is that it comes at a heavy price.

That price is often our very souls.

I exaggerate. Excuse me.

Toil is, sadly, the human condition. Very few people get away with a life of pure leisure and those people are generally degenerate pricks that the majority of humanity looks upon with a mixture of envy and disdain. These people are the stars of various reality shows, the sons and daughters of millionaires with nothing better to do and it shows. While work can (and often does) ruin people, turning them into smoking ruins, it is also pretty obvious that not having to work destroys what makes people good and decent. As with all things, work requires moderation and if your job sucks, it nearly demands you get some totally bitchin’ hobbies to make up for it.

Luckily for us, childhood doesn’t have to be completely forgotten, discarded like an old newspaper filled with content that is no longer relevant. Being a child teaches us a great deal about creativity, imagination, and possibility. Truly losing your soul to work means forgetting that these ideals are important to us as human beings, not just as children. One of the most spiritually depressing things (in the western world at least) is to see people give up, not just on the world, but on themselves. The human experience is a tough thing to deal with. The Buddha might say it is traumatizing; a situation that causes us to recreate suffering constantly. I’m inclined to agree with that for the most part. The thing is that it doesn’t have to be. We don’t have to be innocent and gullible in the manner of children, but we also don’t have to be jaded and pessimistic either. Retaining the possibilities of childhood and the strength and perseverance of adulthood gives us the opportunity to be well adjusted humans: something that is easily within reach of all of us. Just look at old photos of your childhood, the old drawings you used to do, or just remember what it felt like to be a kid. Maybe you can capture some of that and turn things around if they aren’t going so well.

Otherwise, we might as well start feeding our kids to the corporations as soon as they hit puberty. I guess that’s always an option.

Another great way to lighten the load in today’s economy.

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