We Are All Children Until We Die

I've been feeling lost lately.

typewriter balls

I have felt lost in one way or another for much of my life. I was adrift in a complicated family. I could find no counsel for my desires at puberty. Gender norms made me feel stricken. Depression came again and again, and then again. I fell into the valley of addiction. I loved good people badly and bad people well. I allowed abusive employment to keep me from the things I loved.

These are the things I think about when I am feeling lost. I think about all of the terrible things that I had a hand in and how I feel terrible because I am a terrible person. I only think this way, though, when I forget the truth of the matter, which is this:

We are all children until we die.

When we are little, we think that we will grow up and know what we are doing one day, that the curtains obscuring our clarity will magically part with maturity, and we will know what is right, and our paths will be marked. I know I thought that, or at least I hoped for that. I'm really glad no one disabused me of that idea back then, though. I wasn't equipped to know otherwise at the time.

The truth is that we grow and change and learn and shift all of our lives. It's the great gift that no one tells us about, this beautiful truth that nothing is ever as it seems and nothing stays the same.

When you are dropped down into the deep and are mourning losses, you go there from a higher place, and you will return to it. When you are soaring on good works and accolades, it is a happy holiday from the ground. Five years yesterday, today, and five years tomorrow held, hold, and will give you different things. There is no graduation into an established adulthood.

We are all children until we die.

When I declared my sobriety at 37, I began one of the most difficult journeys of my life. It's been a hard, long road in many ways. It's been an incredible one, too, and I've discovered so much power inside of myself that I don't know what to do with it all, and yet here I am, lost as all hell, wondering why, with all this power, the path is still not clear.

And then I remember to hold myself gently again. I remember that it's not for me to know everything, to be all the things that every situation could possibly want of me. I am only me, and I am still a child, after all, learning all of this for the first time with these eyes.

I am learning to be gentle with myself, to be gentle with you. This is the gift. We are not built and then left with whatever hand was dealt. We build until we're gone. We can't help ourselves. It's the state of humanity. It can feel like the worst thing some days to have to keep pushing and doing and changing, but on other days that is the exact thing that will have you flying.

We don't get to choose to stop being creatures of movement, but it's in that sometimes maddening dynamism that all choices are born.

I might feel lost, but I am still moving, and that will bring me somewhere more solid-feeling, at least for a time. This is not an act of faith. This is unavoidable fact. I am not finished yet — none of us are finished yet — because we are all, truly, children until we die.


This post came out of a comment I left on Laurie's New Year's Day.

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