Childhood, Dreams and Ignorance


When I was a little child of 3 or 4, I dreamed of growing up. In fact, I could not wait for becoming an adult. I thought to myself, what kind of a man I’ll be, when I have all grown up? What will I look like at 20, 21 or 22? What will I be doing? Naturally, as every other kid, I envisioned my future in rosy colors (and to an extent still do).
Early on, however, I was very much displeased with the fact, that I was so little and could count my age on my tiny hands. I wanted to grow up as quickly as possible. But the time dragged on and on, dreadfully. I could not wait for my 7th birthday and the 8th seemed to be millenia away. One day I told my father, that I want to become an adult. “It is so much better to live like an adult. You are big and strong. I want to be like that.”, I said to him. Now, my father is a strange man, who does strange things and thinks weird thoughts. This, I noticed only much later, when his influence had been already firmly controlling my life for over a decade. But this is besides the point (or, if you like psychoanalytic theories, that’s exactly the point). However, I remember when I expressed to my father this fervent desire of mine of becoming an adult, he responded by saying: “I wish just the opposite. It is much better to be little like you are now.” It could not be true, I thought to myself then. As a child I was ignored by the world beyond my house. But as an adult all the world lay open to you, I thought. As an adult you can accomplish greatness, take as many adventures as you like and simply make things happen. What my father had said to me, didn’t make any sense to me. Why anyone would wish to become a child again? They should have their head examined instead. The world was such a glorious place and especially for an adult.
I though that once you reach the age of 18, then – almost miraculously  overnight – you become very important and dominant. You enter the big league.  Each and every sucker who happened to appear on this world before or after you will kiss your feet and treat you like a king. Everyone will willingly live in your shadow and properly wait in line just to massage your back. It goes, of course, without saying, that in these childish imaginings you are invested with exceptional powers and authority over others, you look like a cover model, sickness and disease does not afflict you, you are smart beyond measure, you earn big bucks, you have a gorgeous wife, a lover or two, and you do something worth doing for the benefit of the world. In short – you are living the dream and you are calling the shots. You are in charge. You are THE MAN.
When I entered this world, it appeared to me as a very mysterious place. Everything seemed so vivid and colorful. The world seemed like an open invitation letter for investigation. “Come dear boy of mine,” the world silently whispered in my childish ear, “do anything you like and have fun at my expense.” So the world seduced me. I was often amazed at how strange it actually is to live and to feel like me. Now, here I was and there were those other creatures, who were acting differently and independently from me. They seemed to react to my presence in a way I could not predict. This was strange. I had no control over them. They felt different. I felt different.
Early on, I don’t know how, but I acquired a bad habit of inflicting pain on various animals and insects. Quite often I would take an unlucky cat and throw it off the stairs or something. I was amazed – it always landed on its feet. To their great distress, I had also my close moments with a couple of ant colonies living nearby my house. I enjoyed to attack an ant colony with my water-pistol  I shot the water in, in their underground habitat and observed their behavior. How strange of a sight it was. These unhappy insects were fighting for their lives. Panicking, moving hectically back and forth. Some ants were saving their eggs, others were saving themselves. But most of them surely died as I aimed my water-pistol at their path and shot one spurt of water after another, glancing delightfully how they disappeared down the drain. Several spiders and flies within my reach have also suffered a similar fate. My water-pistol was a dangerous weapon in my hands and could affect great transformations in the natural order of things.
As a child I was sure that the world will certainly take notice of me and my greater importance. How could it not? I was a very unique exemplar. At least I felt it so firmly. I was smarter, stronger, wittier and sexier than those empty-headed zombies (or the so called normal people) walking nearby. I had the talents and abilities. Added to this, there was a biographic curiosity, that I was born in the Soviet Union and spoke a language, which 99,9% could not understand. Certainly, an advantage  I thought. The destiny had dealt me a brilliant hand. Nothing could go wrong. When I grow up, the world better get a notice of me or else… pity those fools. They haven’t recognized a genius developing under their nose. Shame on them. I will prove that I am a superman, just give me an opportunity. I will prove the doubters wrong. I thought I could do literally anything and was much better at it than those fools, liars, hypocrites that seemed to surround and follow me constantly. These rather fantastic, hypnotic and inspiring thoughts were guiding me through my early teens and adolescence till perhaps the age of 24. With more years under my belt, I thought that some big reward awaits me just around the corner. Yet, when I looked around the corner, instead of a carrot, I received a stick. I noticed at first quite shamefully that I was an idiot to begin with. In those many things I thought I could do better than others, I failed. Yet, I always found a way to give my mistakes and failures a positive spin. I started to wander, what is wrong with the world and those fake, envious and resentful people? How dare they not to recognize my genius? Is it not time for them to recognize my superior skills and abilities? The time had come for me to receive lavishly the compliments and honors of the world. I was already in my early twenties, so why the hold up? And then it dawned on me, for the very first time in my life I started to notice my limitations (as you grow older, your limitations will become clearer and clearer). I was very limited in my knowledge, experience and resources. In fact, my limitations were all I had. I was not a man for all seasons. The world was doing just fine without me. Perhaps even better. And – here’s the conspiracy – no one had told me this (or was I deaf and blind?). I was totally unaware of my stupidity and ignorance. I had to discover it for myself. Despite wasting years at schools and universities, having parties after parties, trying to fit in, aimlessly wanting to prove myself to the world and other people, I learned little and to my astonishment discovered, that the real studies begin after you exit the classroom. The discovery of my limitations and ignorance was a crucial (and still ongoing) experience, which has changed my life ever since. The foundation of knowledge is ignorance. Kudos to Socrates! Certainly, past mistakes cannot be eradicated from my biography. They have become a part of me. (Yet, some mistakes are worth repeating.  But then again, would you still call them mistakes?) While paving the way for the future, I bear the past within me.  I do not expect any great things to happen. In fact, I am quite happy to live as a nobody in the world, which does not give a damn about my (or anybody else’s) whims and fancies. Don’t count on your luck for long. The world throws the dice all the time.

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