Posted on October 26, 2018
by Steve Janowick

If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, I can distinctly remember an actual sweetness in the air on warm days.  A palpable smell. Do you remember that smell? The summers of my youth were magical. All the seasons of my youth were magical.  No, we didn’t have a pot to piss in and a window to throw it out of, and yes, every day was a struggle for my Mom and Dad to provide just the most basic of needs for us kids, but I can say with the utmost honesty that those were the happiest, most content times of my life.  Depression, anxiety, stress: those weren’t even mere blips on my radar of consciousness. However, fast-forward to 2018, and they’ve become the primary adversaries in my life as an adult man. Formidable combatants that wage war against me on a daily basis.

Of course, this unfortunate evolution happens to every man at some juncture in his life.  It is the result of that inevitable transformation when the innocence of youth slowly morphs into the responsibilities of adulthood.  As a young boy, the mind is an undeveloped, blank canvas. It’s as if the young brain’s processor has this uncanny ability to recognize any bad stimuli that enters it, then quickly reject it. Likewise, a boy’s heart is full of possibility and hope.  It continuously pumps optimism-rich blood through his veins allowing him to always feel positive, carefree and see a future where his days are bright, and all his dreams will come true. This, barring the horrors of abuse or neglect, is a wonderful time to be alive.

But then puberty hits and, just like that, all those sweet Disney-like characters living inside him are killed off, one by one, by a bunch of moody, cynical, temperamental demons that want to possess him.  Most of the time they succeed. And for the next seven to ten years, the teenager/young adult’s brain and heart live in a metaphoric blender where his thoughts and emotions violently mix and spin out of control until they congeal into the mold that forms him as the adult man.

And then the fun really begins.  If he’s fortunate enough to have walked away from that blender void of any permanent mental and emotional cuts or abrasions, then he’s very lucky.  Because he’ll need that extra reserve of fortitude to take on those relentless, scrappy ‘ty’ brothers: responsibility, accountability and liability.  They come out swinging and, suddenly, the man’s life is not just his own anymore. His actions now have major consequences. He now has everything to lose.  And if he should get KO’d in that battle? Or even lose a close decision? Then the war with the big boys ensues. Depression, anxiety and the rest of their army are ruthless warriors whose sole mission is to terminate the adult man … with extreme prejudice (who doesn’t love a bad-ass Apocalypse Now reference now and again?).

But, barring time travel, hypnosis or expensive memory therapy, we ain’t goin’ back to our youths, fellas.  Instead of longing for the past, how about accepting your present and start kicking the shit out of the enemy.  Annihilate those bastards so your future “old man” self can come full-circle and smell that summer sweetness again.

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