To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Time and the taking of it

Once upon a time, in a parking lot outside of a Wegman’s, I was scared. This was a few short weeks before I would leave before my first semester at college, and I was scared. I’d known for a while that I wanted to go to college: I was ready for a new social scene, for classes I’d actually enjoy and for the “college experience” that we’re all taught to expect.


It wasn’t that I didn’t feel ready for school, I had for a while. I wasn’t scared of leaving my parents, my dog (maybe that’s a lie) or even my friends from high school. I, much like Peter Pan, was terrified of growing up. And I still am.


Maybe the concept of growing up is in reality just the fear of change. The fear of loss. The fear of unknown experiences with unknown people in an unknown place. And I was terrified of all of those things. Walking out of Wegman’s with a cart full of groceries, my father and I walked over to our car. For a while, on the ride back home, I was quiet. I knew that this would be one of the last moments I’d have with my family before I stepped into a new chapter in my life and looked back on that exact kind of moment with revelry and nostalgia and maybe even a tear. Listening to the same Chris Cornell songs that we always did, chewing the same Juicy Fruit gum that was always in the car, I shared these feelings with my father.


He, in classic fashion, gave me what I count among the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever received. I told him how scared I was of growing up, how scared I was of the inevitable change that college would bring and how much I would miss our dog. He understood completely, and reminded me of something truly special.


My dad is a special kind of immature. He’s not irresponsible, needlessly childish, or anything negative. He’s just… goofy at the right times. On the walk back to the car, instead of pushing our shopping cart like a normal human being, he always insists that he rides on the back of the cart while I push him and shout “weeeeeeeeeee” so loud that the entire state can hear me. As he always did (and still does to this day), he once again insisted that I push him across the parking lot at top speed while screaming at the top of my lungs. It sounds silly, but I think that the image of me pushing a grown man around in a shopping cart is the funniest thing ever.


In the car, when I told him these feelings, when I told him how scared I was to change, he reminded me of how I pushed him in a shopping cart just a few minutes ago. He asked me, “why do you think that I had you push me in that cart? Why do you think that I have the same Juicy Fruit gum in the car that I had when I was your age?” I thought for a minute, puzzled at the question, but then he revealed to me something that I’ve kept close to my heart since: “I choose not to grow up. I choose to be a little immature, to keep my inner child alive.”


That… really helped. I felt better, and somehow worked up the courage to not only pack up my entire life and move it several states over, but to also say goodbye to my dog. It wasn’t easy, but I kept my dad’s message close: growing up is a choice. And I choose not to.


I may have a job, do my own food shopping and even pay taxes, but I won’t ever let myself fully grow up. Whether it’s enjoying some childhood indulgence like an old video game, or chewing the same gum that I grew up chewing like my dad does, I take the time to actively be a little bit immature in some ways.


It’s small, barely-noticable things like that that keep me sane. I might be partially adult, I did vote in the recent election, but I won’t let the aspects of my past that I love fade into obscurity. I’ll keep the lesson that I learned from my dad close to my heart, and next time I’ll ask him to push me in that shopping cart instead.

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