The age of innocence – the childhood we all yearn for.

This growing up thing is quite annoying. It seems to me like we’re these happy little beings, playing around in the garden, being fed and snuggled, and our only responsibility is going to school … and having fun. And then eighteen hits and for a little while it’s fresh and exciting and you explore the world and then life really starts hitting you and decisions become tougher and suddenly you’re torn between focusing on your career and being with family and going back home and making a life for yourself elsewhere. So as the holidays approach, I’m sitting around staring blankly into space, pondering what this GROWING up is all about.

G is for Growth.

Literally. Because that’s what we do. Whether we grow in height, sideways (which seems more common in this thing called adulthood), intellectual capacity, or experiences, we thought we were all grown up by the time we finished school but, boy oh boy, were we wrong. See, it seems that this growing up is all about growing more. The more we do, the more we realise that there’s so much we haven’t done – so much to learn, so much to experience, so much to live. And so we grow more and more, day by day.

R is for Riches.

I don’t mean this in the sense of multi-million-dollar businesses or luxurious lives, but in the little freedom that comes from earning your own income. Suddenly you have the option of buying something simply because you want to buy it – there’s no one to answer to, no one to rely on, and you can choose what you want to do because it’s your money. And in our capitalist society, the ability to spend seems to be the ultimate definition of freedom. Yes, it can also be the definition of the ultimate worrier, and the fear of not having enough money is what keeps us up at night, but, hey, it’s almost Christmas, so let’s not focus on that.

Christmas Tree

Christmas – the time that really is all about love.

O is for Ohhhhmmm.

Because this growing up thing is pretty stressful. All of it. Yes, a lot of it is wonderful, but it’s all new and no one really gives us a guidebook. So we try and fail and try and succeed, and so it goes on and on and on. Keeping calm throughout all of this seems to be pretty important. So we meditate or go running or do yoga, read or watch movies, or hang out with family and friends, whatever it is, we all have that little something that silences the voices in our head and allows us to breathe and journey on.

W is for Wonder.

There’s a lot of that. When we leave home, the world opens up to us. For the first time in our lives we’re free to travel and experience and see the world, and the world’s a pretty amazing place filled with wonder. We don’t even have to travel far – even daytrips (which become possible with those adult things called a driver’s license and an income) are enough to experience all the wonderful things the world has to offer.

I is for Introspection.

Even though it seems that growing up can be incredibly freeing, it can also be a very lonely time. You don’t see your friends every day like at school, you don’t have a mom and dad close by to hug you, and you start thinking about the ‘serious’ things – what do I want to do with my life? Where is all of this going? Why am I here? Perhaps these are questions we ask ourselves earlier too, but they seem to become more pronounced as we grow up – and older.

N is for Namibia (which is a synonym for home).

For the first time in our lives, our home is no longer the place we spend the most time. We make new homes. We move to different cities, countries, or continents, and suddenly we find ourselves torn between two homes, two families, two groups of friends, if not more as those who travel a lot will find. The world’s such a big place and it’s become possible for us to go everywhere, but at the root of it all is that little place in our hearts that belongs to our home, where we were raised and went to school and hung out with our parents. And no matter what happens in life, that place will always be there.

Namibia (7)

Namibia – the land of sand and dunes, my home.

G, finally, is for Glory.

Because, ultimately, that’s all it is. Despite heartache and pain and struggles and thinking too much and worrying about xyz, at the end of it all, this life, this growing up, this experience we lead, is glorious, even if only for the simple reason that we get to be alive for it.

So, while I’m sitting here feeling a little sad at the passing of my childhood, I’m also happy that I get to live the life I have, that I get to experience so much and see so much of the world’s wonders, that I have people who love me and people I love, and that I have a home that I get to return to, even if only once a year for Christmas, when we can all pretend to be little kids again and experience the joys of childhood one more time. So here’s to happiness, friends and family, old homes and new homes, love, and the holiday spirit that makes the world a magical place.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.