By Vasundhara Singh
Picture Credit: Papier Moon
Another day goes by as the evening chill begins to settle on the surface of his weary skin and his haggard mind trails off into yet another pensive thought. A surge of a stubborn wind sweeps the dusts of his table and the irreparable man summons his strength to walk across the dimly lit room and just as he is about to close the shutters of the window and compliment the darkness of his mind with that of the room, he stops halfway and stares with his eyes wide open at the night sky ahead of him.
The year is 1889 and this man would take his own life only a year later but at this very moment with the glint of the moonlight shinning on his glass bottle, he picks up a paint brush and creates one of the greatest paintings of all time- ‘The Starry Night.’ Van Gogh lived to be 37 years old and until his premature death, he never experienced any real success from his art.
Vincent Van Gogh was many things in one man but there was one thing he could never be: An adult.
A hundred and twenty nine years later, a bemused college student sits on the edge of her bed wondering if the last year of college will provide her with any satisfactory answers for the future inching towards her with every passing second. Don’t be mistaken, she is not the next Van Gogh or Henry David Thoreau but like the men mentioned here, she too has some questions about the world and is willing to sacrifice her mental stability in order to search for their answers.
My life has halted at a veritable crossroad and at such a point, the psychological responses of fight or flight will determine my life as a young adult. Unfortunately, my flight response is much stronger than my need to fight and the slow yet painful admission of needing to be an adult in only a few months time is starting to inhabit my senses.
In order to become an adult, I need to understand who an adult is supposed to be in the first place. There are certain determinants to categorise adults from children and adolescents such as the age of voting, the legal age for marriage, the age needed to purchase alcohol and a slew of others. Though, the psychological determinants are far more significant than the physical ones.
At what age, do we ‘feel’ like an adult and stop behaving like children? Is it the time we receive our first pay check or go to a grocery store to purchase the items for dinner? Is it when we decide to get married or hold our child in our arms for the very first time?
The crucial point of ‘becoming’ an adult comes at different stages for every individual. This idea challenges the concrete information handed to us at school and at home as we have been repeatedly told that as soon as we finish college and enter the ‘real’ world, we become adults. An adult who has naturally transitioned from childhood to adulthood and no longer has the same passions and eccentricities as the child that once was.
The myth of the ‘real’ world has polluted our understanding of life and it entails the misjudgment of the moment our lives begin. Truth be told, the muddled nature of entering this ‘real’ world is a testament to the structure that beguile us at every stage of our lives and in order, to make it seem as though a ‘life’ lies ahead of us and what we have lived for eighteen or twenty one years in a safeguarded haven is nothing but white noise.
Adulthood is a pipe dream, an unattainable and fanciful scheme rubbished in our faces by people who lie to themselves about being an adult. Adulthood is an intangible whiff of air clouding our mind and leaving us with more questions devoid of any suitable answers.
The adult inside me wavers in ambiguity and obscurity while I wonder if it will ever awaken from its slumber.
Van Gogh spent many years of his life travelling across Europe penniless and unemployed while remaining unmarried and accepting financial help from his brother. The day he was consumed by the luminous night sky, he had been spending a year at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence, a mental asylum. In the conventional sense, Vincent’s adult refused to overpower the child in him and I wonder if that was the very reason he became the legend that he is.
The child in me giggles away sheepishly as the adult’s loud snores fill my insides. I look across my room and from the window the innumerous stars wink away in perverse delight.
Don’t wake the adult anytime soon, they seem to whisper.
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