Republished: A Look Back from the Middle

Eric ProfileRepublishing a recollection from our son Eric’s own writings about his development, “A Look Back from the Middle”, written in 2009, calling out some of the key developmental threads of his older youth after leaving school at fourteen and pursuing the unschooling path…

There was a period; in fact, it was the entire span of time between so long as I can remember and age twenty one. One might observe that this period serves as one definition of the elusive “youth”. Within this epoch of profound growth and exploration, time unfolded with an even rhythm that grows less and less familiar with age. Each step as quantifiable in retrospect as it was mysterious in present.

Every year was an era unto itself, complete with its own discoveries, characters, lessons, and dreams. I can’t retain every detail but the themes adhere well to my recollections. At fourteen I ached and yearned to be understood by others. Then, at fifteen, I stared into the void, listening keen, diving headfirst into ice water on the journey to look within. Sixteen bore the bittersweet burden of learning to express a newly embraced genuine identity while struggling to untangle myself from what webs and weights would still cling to restrict my march forward.

During this time each year was a story: beginning, middle, and end, neatly bracketed by the incidental proximity of the day of my birth to the observance of the new year. Each one starting fresh with heavy reflection and a sense of overwhelming renewal. It was the most curious of a sensation, then, at twenty one, making choices and looking forward at the era to come. Seeing, for the first time, the pattern changing provided the context with which I could identify it at all. Something new was starting, something profoundly different by any measure I deemed worthy to count. Looking onward, into a brewing storm with its towering thunderheads of uncertainty and inevitability, I could not identify the exact nature of the coming era but I could tell that its route ran longer than what I had been accustomed to, its current in active revolt against the confines of that ever so familiar three sixty five.

At the time of this writing, some years later, not too many and not too few, I’ve paused for a breath at the other end of that inquiring gaze, glancing backward over traversed terrain to make sure I still recognize my compatriot at the starting line. Without him, and those who stood before him, I would surely lose my way amongst the torpor and awe. Satisfied with the recognition of his silhouette in the distance I can roll my head back around, orient my face forward and take my next step, without any inkling as to where my foot might fall.

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