Telling Younger From Older

One way that a child stands out: emotions don’t “stick” with them more than 15 minutes. It is as if their personas are teflon coated so emotions slide off. Sure the normal interactions of the day will bring anger, frustration, sadness, joy, etc. But what’s remarkable is that these dispositions move along, like clouds moseying across a blue sky to make an appointment beyond the horizon.

Adults, well, all too often emotions stick to us one at a time, the way barnacles latch to the hull of a ship. Think of how someone’s comments or actions make you stew inside. For how long? And why so long? Perhaps it is the scale or intensity of what we experience.

But is it something else? Perhaps that when we are young we live in the moment, as veritable kunduns; perplexingly, as we “grow up,” we teach ourselves too well how to live in the past and the future. Hard to know why or how this evolves in us, but I have seen the stark difference, now that we have two young boys.

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  1. Tony Tonev April 8, 2009 at 12:40 am

    I think you’re onto something. I think it might have to do with the fact that children do not have deeply established values yet. The things they get angry over are momentary and physical like “Tommy tripped me” rather than “Tommy is a racist.” Immediate wrongs are easy to forgive. It’s the ones the violate our sense of morality that stick with us.

    Also, when we get older, there’s a lot more at stake. Children are in a protective bubble, created by their parents. No matter what happens at school (for the most part), they will still come home to a good meal and a warm bed. When an adult gets fired, not only is his security in question, but also that of his family. When basic necessities are in question, people tend to get much more upset and for longer.

    I like your writing style. I might just have to subscribe to this :D.

  2. Abe Pachikara April 8, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Hi Tony, the points you make are true. My observation is that as adults we all too often struggle to be in the moment the way children so easily can, and to trust to a greater degree that good outcomes will ultimately come forth.


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