Before I begin, I want to clarify; I am not perfect nor do I claim to be. My history is fraught with lots of mistakes from which I try to learn. I try my best to be the person I can to be and follow the best path. This post is about the trouble with the high road that I try to take.
The prodigal son is a parable I know well, not for the traditional reason such as my Catholic upbringing. I have a different connection with the story. When I was growing up, my sister in all of her gloriousness started to refer to me as the prodigal son. To her, I could do no wrong in the eyes of my parents. I avoided their punishment and seemingly was always treated better by them. Of course, this was untrue, just as I don’t pick a favorite parent, my parents didn’t pick favorite children. This didn’t deter her, making me feel like I was separate from the rest of my siblings like I didn’t belong with the rest of them like my struggle was somehow void and lesser in the face of everything. Now I can not speak to how it was, all I can say is how I feel, and I saw it as equal treatment. The story evolved for me when I grew older. First, my dad started referring to the story as the forgiving father rather than the prodigal son because that was the take away from the parable and I think he was hinting at something. Second, even though in colloquial language the prodigal son refers to the child who can do no wrong, what prodigal means is wasteful or spends money unwisely. A description that fits me even less than I less than the previous meaning. Even through it all, I tried to live up to being that shining spectacle of this good son.
When I had gotten into high school and went through the customary process of receiving the Rite of Confirmation. Right before we are to receive it, we are told to reflect on which of the seven gifts of the holy spirit. One of the gifts was wisdom, being that I was already pretty good with knowledge, and had known that King Solomon had asked God for wisdom before he became king, I thought it would be a good idea to choose wisdom. From then I wanted to be one of those old sages on a hill that everyone came to for advice.
What does this have to do with anything? What’s the point in me writing this?
Well, truth be told, it’s because it helped send me down a strange path in life, this is not about faith or religion, it’s about morality.
I have always been one to follow my conscience, or try to. Be it the fun path or not, the voice in my head directing me towards what I should do rather than what I feel like doing has been loud and clear. I always wanted to live up to being noble, polite, and a good person. A man of virtue so to speak. Let me tell you; it is frustrating. When something comes up, and I know it’s probably ill-advised but sounds fun, I am compelled to say no. I know how I should approach a situation and how to act around people. How to keep out of trouble, and how to perform correctly. It keeps me out of bad situations, but the other problem is that it keeps me out of life.
When people tell stories, they talk about how something went awry. It usually beings with something out of the ordinary, and a lot of the time not well thought out plan by at least one person. Knowing and taking the path where I have listened to others and about their mistakes and missteps and how they solved the problem has given me a wealth of knowledge but a lack of experiences. That voice in my head that keeps me from trouble also makes me away from living. It’s like when one kid burns and knowing not to touch, it makes me want to know what it feels like to get burned even though I am aware it’s a bad thing. I know how to live correctly, but the path that I end up walking on is lonely. I know to take the high road, but sometimes I just want to take the same route as everyone.
Though this right way doesn’t guarantee success, what it does give me is the ability to look at myself in the mirror for the choices I have made. The problem is, I just want to be young and make silly decisions. My conscience bears down on me, though, making sure that I stay tried and true. I feel like sometimes it would be easier to be freed of this constant badgering, allowed to make these decisions based on feelings at the time. The problem with knowing where to go makes taking the wrong path becomes a purposeful decision to hinder me, which is illogical. It’s like a slow insanity because when I know something is wrong, it immediately becomes undoable.
This doesn’t seem like a huge issue and even as I am writing this I feel a bit silly, but it’s frustrating as hell. Trying to be this virtuous person all the time is tiring, and all I want to do is take a break from it. Take a break from caring, from doing the right thing. Go off the deep end. One of the things I had imagined when I was younger was escaping into the night without anyone’s notice to walk the empty streets. The thing that kept me from doing it other than the fact I would have been in trouble if caught that it would be cold and lonely so not as much fun my romanticizing of it would be. Now I could be very wrong, and I am missing this hot new trend of midnight walking, but it’s those kinds of thoughts that drive me crazy. I just want to do these things that people my age could get away with because we are young instead of never doing it and missing my chance.
I have been trying to free myself of these binds I have kept myself, allowing me to live more. Exploring these decisions and allowing myself to move out of the proverbial good choices. I am trying to live differently and to make decisions that I would both enjoy and be proud of. Gain these experience that I crave. Live the life that I want; I will always act according to my conscience but I can least widen what is consider as a good result. I will keep moving forward and learning more from others but I can at least try to live some of these things for myself, because sometimes kids have to get burned by the stove to really understand the reason to not touch it.