“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing”. – Bill quoting Socrates
An instruction manual would be nice to have. An instruction manual about your favourite person, preferably with pictures. A book that reads how they react to sad things and why, what makes them tick tock, a picture of inside the house they grew up in. You could ask your favourite person all of the questions that you’d like to know – they would probably tell you – if they remembered themselves, but the instruction manual could tell you everything, in fine detail. It’s cool and all, but I would probably still be left dissatisfied. You see, I’m greedy. I’m thinking that maybe the images inside would have to be scratch and sniff.
There would be a section for eggs and how they like them in the morning. Maybe they prefer cake for breakfast. I need not a manual to know that my mother would take a slice of cake for breakfast over fried eggs any day. Something I don’t know however, is what her childhood bedroom looked like or how she lost her first tooth. A manual would be nice but it’s simply not enough for my liking. I’d like to see all of these things for myself. But that’s impossible. Unless I go on some kind of Excellent Adventure.
Sometimes you forget that your parents had a whole life to themselves before you were even a thought! Not even a grain of sand yet. You don’t even call them by their real name. They’re just mum and dad. Ma and Pa. Imagine if they referred to me as “daughter”. When the thought of your parents being more than the title they’ve been assigned becomes prevalent in your mind, everything transcends. Big thoughts like how they lived at your age, how they spoke, did they like to read in their bed like you? Big thoughts like the fact that they are human too. Their own human. Shocking! They are not simply someone that raised you and cared for you like that’s all there was to their life, at least it seemed like that when you were much younger. They possess all of the feelings and thoughts you experience and more. They had a life before you. Even the fact that they’ve been your age before, a while ago, is bizarre to think about. Did they have a crush on someone? Did they ever tell their friends that they felt like running away? And what did they sound like when they told them? You will never know for sure.
With me being greedy and all, I think about how it’s not fair that my parents were able to see more of me than I saw of them. I got the short end of the stick. They saw me take my first step, I didn’t see theirs. They were there for my first day of high school and watched me try to open my eyes to eat my breakfast. I will never know how they were feeling on their first day. How their hair felt. What the day looked like. Maybe they smelt like marshmallows. I could ask them. They might remember. I could listen to their stories and look at photos for hours but it just does not compare. It’s annoying but so are a lot of things in life.
An instruction manual would be nice but I realise that everything I need to know is right in front of me. We are made up of all the things we have picked up along the way and decided to keep a hold of. We acquire our traits, we build our values, we make mistakes, everything develops over time and things either stick to us or they don’t. You don’t have to watch the paint dry to enjoy the finished product.
One day, my mum told me that everything I do or say would never shock her, not in a million years. It wouldn’t shock her because she knows exactly why I did it and what I was thinking when I did it because she’s been through the exact same thing once upon a time. So if I ever want to know what my mum was thinking at my age, I guess I could ask myself. Red is my mum’s colour. Apparently red is my colour too. I am a mini her. I think I’m her on ten speed. I’m the next model of her but the screen still keeps smashing and all of the apps crash after a while but that’s okay. I’m waiting for the next upgrade. In my next upgrade it will feature a new found mind at ease. The greatest of ease.
I don’t need a manual to navigate and study my favourite people. I know all of the answers I think I need to know.
I know what my parents smelt like before I was even a thought. They still wear the same scent to this day. I know what my parents looked like in high school. There’s a whole photo album at home full of school photos. I know that planes flying over made my mum nervous when she was younger because they still do.
Though, my point is that even if my parents this morning have nothing or everything in common with their eighteen-year-old selves, it doesn’t matter. They’re not eighteen anymore. They’re not even anything they did yesterday or the day before. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t get to meet them when they were twelve. I get to meet and know the upgraded version. They’re what you know about them right now. All I need to know is how they exist and how they have existed in my lifetime. And what I’ve learnt from that. And what’s stuck to them from all of the ages I missed out on. Because what is really important are not all of the things you can see and touch. It’s what shines through them from the inside out and all of the little things they’ve picked up along the way. Excellent.
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