A few things were different in 1991. Gas was $1.12 per gallon. The average house cost around $71,000 and eggs were only .85 cents a dozen. I was in 7th grade. The Cold War was ending and Desert Storm was beginning. If you look up the year 1991, you can see a ton of news stories that seem like today’s headlines. There were political uprisings, earthquakes and fires; assassinations, murders, bombings and social unrest too…
So in some ways, not much has changed since 1991.
I did look up that year however, to remind myself of the context and the history surrounding my 12th year of life. I recall that at that time, I was struggling socially. I had been inflicted with a juvenile-arthritis type of disease for a couple years. I didn’t enjoy the experience of being a 7th grader much. I suppose that age is tough for a lot of people.
Funny though, when I watch interviews and biographies of people who have done something noteworthy or interesting in their career or life, the age of 12 seems to come up often. It’s not an exact number for each case, but many times, the successful entrepreneur or actor or leader will express that they had visions as a young person about their own future. Often times, they seem to have a direction or focus of interest, maybe even a passion, that begins before their teenage years.
I suppose once the real changes of adolescence set in, and the storm of developments occur in mind and body, it is less likely to find your true life’s calling. I know that if I really take an honest personal accounting, I am much today, just like I was as a 12 year old boy.
What advice then, would I look back and mention to that 7th grade version of Aaron William?
I remember at that age, that I wanted so dearly to fit in. I wanted to be more like other people seemed to be. I wanted my inborn characteristics to magically alter and become different, more inline with a sporty jock persona, or a class president, or maybe like Zach Morris, from Saved By the Bell. I just didn’t like the me, that I found in the mirror in the morning…
Well, some days here, at age 36, I don’t seem to have grown much beyond those early pubescent personal thoughts and desires.
I do however, have the ability now to separate and look back, and advise myself about just those very ‘defects’ of personality, that bothered me so much. I know now that a force too loving to imagine, has handcrafted me, and sculpted you, and painstakingly assembled each one of us to be fantastically unique. These qualities may seem to separate us from others at times. Our weirdness can feel lonely and wrong. When we see things differently, or don’t quite homogenize with the in-crowd, that can be a good thing too.
It is these distinct characteristics that make our journey worth our personal investment into creating our life in this vast sea of humanity. There is a reason that we were given this exact combination of personality, talents and early life experiences. The things that I used to find so ‘uncool’ about myself at age 12, are the very things that have helped me the most to navigate life since then.
I don’t exactly believe that we need to follow every whim of our desires. I’m not promoting, throwing away common decency and love for your neighbor, in favor of your own selfishnesses. I do think however that we were designed to know on a deeper level, at the very core of our being, where the truth and where the light is guiding us. Inside our 12 year old selves that purity exists. Deeply and foundationally, we are as intelligent then, as we ever will be.
The culture, the in-crowd, TV and now Internet, can confuse and bomb our waking consciousness with static. The maelstrom of fear, of violence, of sex and gunshots, can fully consume our attention. No more so, than today on the 14th anniversary of the 9-11 Terror Attacks.
Headlines will scream today to Remember, and to Never Forget. One truth though, is that headlines will keep coming, just as they always have. The wars on this plane of existence will always be with us, in some fashion or another. Let’s ask though, our inner 12 year olds, and the 12 year old of today, and those of 12 years from now, to look within. Let’s ask them about the implanted truth that just they have been given. Let’s cultivate those youthful passions. Let’s give credit to pre-teen audacity and intellect. Let’s lead as loving children, instead of grizzled and weary veterans shot full of mental shrapnel by the primitive sales force of the media.
So much easier said than done… But again, that is probably the ‘prudent’ and ‘cautious’ discernation of my adult mind. The 12 year old me, might have known better.
Until Next Week,