As a youngster, perhaps ten to twelve years of age, there were times – which i can remember as clearly as if it were yesterday – when i’d ponder the inevitable consequences of growing up. It was not a prospect that i looked forward to: in my mind, the whole idea of giving up the fun and enjoyable things in life, in order to become serious and sensible, simply appalled me. The thought of one day becoming an adult was a frightening and unappealing prospect, and the knowledge that i would someday be too old for toys, innocent fun and games, along with the freedom to play as i wished was not something i would welcome.
Of course, not only did i have no choice in the matter, but it turned out to be every bit as bad as i’d feared.
Before you chastise me for taking a rather fatalistic view of life and growing older, i don’t want you to think that it’s all been a bit of a drag – there have certainly been fun times and plenty of opportunities to both play and occasionally act like a child again, but it’s not the same as it once was. The very word ‘maturity’ is implicit in its expectation of sobriety, responsibility and acting one’s age and – with the passing of the years – those more ‘grown up’ qualities gain the upper hand, and the capriciousness of youth is frowned upon, even though it may be viewed with nostalgia and yearning.
Let’s face it, we may have our gleeful moments, but they are few and far between, and i wouldn’t mind betting that every one of us at some time or other have raised a scornful and disapproving eyebrow, should we happen to catch our peers behaving ‘like a big kid’, rather than grown men and women.
Thank goodness then for those infrequent, yet much-needed, opportunities to regress back to our childhoods and throw off the fetters of sensible adulthood. In today’s high-pressure, high performance, high speed world it’s really no surprise that escapist activities are on the increase, and typically they are the sort of thing that can often verge on the ridiculous and are more akin to childhood pursuits than grown-up activities. Cosplay and roleplaying are seeing a huge increase in participants – i have a friend who is a mechanic during the week, and an elf at weekends! So too are adventure gaming and such ridiculous predelictions as zorbing and paintballing – it’s rolling down grassy hillsides on sunny days, and cowboys and indians for the young at heart!
And, of course, there’s sl: in fact, in some ways, sl gives us the possibility to take things further than any other sort of childhood-style pursuit – there’s a large and vibrant community of ageplayers within sl for whom the allure of dressing, behaving and seeing the virtual world through the eyes of a child is difficult to resist. No matter what your opinion of such things is – and here i hold my hand up and admit that it’s something i find difficult to get to grips with, but then i imagine others may find some of the things i get up to equally incomprehensible – those to whom this appeals will fight their cause, if called upon. It’s not my thing, but within the context of escaping to those heady and beguiling days of a youth, long gone, i can appreciate its attraction.
And, if that’s not your style, sl can still be a preserve of the child within us. Being the rather self-conscious sort, it takes a lot for me to do anything in rl that might draw attention to myself… you’re unlikely to catch me doing anything remotely foolish or losing my inhibitions, particularly along the lines of anything that could be construed as ‘childish’ – yet that’s the one thing that i never wanted to lose. In sl, we’re talking a completely different ballgame – as far as i’m concerned, it’s a low-risk, high-living environment: a place where i’ll happily jump on the swings, without a second thought – even if people are looking! It’s a place i can dance, blow raspberries, act the fool, play tag and basically have a good old-fashioned romp. And i love it!
i’ve always been a child at heart, and i always will be – but i’m chuffed to bits that i’ve found a world where that’s perfectly ok… no raised eyebrows, no scornful frowns and nobody, but nobody, telling me to act my age!
Together we climbed hills or trees.
Learned of love and ABC’s,
skinned our hearts and skinned our knees.
Terry Jacks – Seasons In The Sun