Did My Life Peak at Six?

Talking about everything changing… even I’M changing. 

Even within a single day I change:  In mornings I’m most creative, in afternoons most tired, in evenings most busy, at night most WIRED.  Once I was a baby, then I was a youth, then I morphed to teen-hood and now I’m just a goof.  Soon I will be old, then I’ll surely die, get carried up to heaven by angels by and by (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The year I was six years old has been my favorite so far.  That was back in 1989, the year I should have gone to Kindergarten but instead stayed home and played hooky (long story).

Beginning my education with a gap year was thinking far ahead of my time.  I predict this practice to catch on mainstream soon.  At such a tender age, spending a year savoring life and contemplating existence is more beneficial than being dropped into “The System," I believe.  Who wants to begin the long, tedious process of staring at a clock and catching runny-nose-colds when the oyster shell of life beckons?  Not I, for one.

Nick, circa 1989Back when I was six, I was into Cowboys.  In particular: BEING a Cowboy. Every day was spent outside riding my bicycle (i.e. Mustang Steed) in the backyard (the Bar-K Ranch) lounging in our wooden playhouse (Davy Crockett’s Alamo) climbing trees (Watchtowers) and lassoing neighborhood alley cats (Rogue Steers). 

Each afternoon at 3, Mom & I would go drive and pick up Luke & Seth from school, listening to the Sugar Creek Gang on the radio enroute.  I loved the Sugar Creek Gang.  I also loved watching the buffalo by their school.  And the spot on 45th Street where the road curved in an S fascinated me. Six year olds are easily entertained.

The evenings were busy watching others work: watching Mom get supper ready, watching Dad get home from the office (I always hid behind the front door and as he entered would leap out yelling "Raaugh!"), watching siblings wash dishes after dinner, watching my baby brother Joe gaze absentmindedly into space, and my favorite: watching Luke build stuff.  Like transforming Dad’s metal gasoline can into a robot (Dad wasn’t thrilled, but I was) or making a balsa wood airplane powered by a giant rubber band.

The airplane project took weeks, as I recall.  I always enjoyed helping him… getting a tool, holding something, or at least providing moral support.  He never minded.  And every day when Luke was at school I would go in the shed and longingly stare at the unfinished contraption, hardly able to wait until he returned to continue progress.  I wished school didn’t exist so he could work on it more.  Little did I know then my negative feelings towards school would only increase with time. 

Seth and I also did tons together: staying up late whispering is one memory.  What we discussed idk, but we did plan a camping trip to the Pecos once, which is still pending (*ahem*).  In the summer, Seth and I often played Cowboys and (politically incorrect) Indians.  I had a beautiful set of six-shooter cap guns which were put to good effect. 

Later I acquired a BB gun which shot nifty holes through the screen windows on our shed, though that activity wasn’t looked favorably upon by the ruling class.  Neither was shattering the light fixture in our living room, something I once did during an epic pillow fight with my brothers.  But that’s all water under the bridge now.

A six year old still has a working imagination.  An imagination that easily transforms a modest backyard into a sprawling Bar-K Ranch.  Or the gutted stock of an antique firearm (a household relic which never ceased to fascinate me) into a Tommy machine gun.

My active imagination could even make up stuff from scratch: I remember exploring uncharted aquatic depths with my personal submarine.  It was yellow with a front bubbled glass window, sported a brilliant search light, and was only large enough for a six year old my size to squeeze into.

Back when I was six, everything in life was new and mysterious… the fine line separating fact from fantasy still blurry.  Best of all, there was nothing to worry about! 

Definitely not the future.  And nothing to stew about.  Fortunately, not the past.  Six year olds in loving families are too busy processing the present.  Now, at twenty-seven, I think about both past and future quite a bit.

All this soliloquy reminds me of a passage from Matthew,

About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him
who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him.

Then he said, "I promise you this. If you don’t change and
become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of
heaven.  But if you are as humble as this child, you are the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven." 

(Matthew 18:1-4 Contemporary English Version)

Seems like childhood was one big quest to become an adult.  Then adulthood becomes one big quest to regain the humility, faith, and wonder of a child.