I wonder a lot of stuff. I started wondering about stuff when I was really really young. I started wondering about things that I don't think other kids wonder about. Like:
If the universe started from something, then of course it has to end at something. Really, when you think about it, there must be a point in our universe at which you can't reasonably expect to find any more particles, or mesons, bosons, quarkes, semiquavers, or dreams, right? Something has to end what started, or it doesn't make any sense at all. I remember thinking about this (though not, perhaps in those terms) when I was in 3rd grade, while staring at the striped gold-and white wallpaper in the front hall of our house. Freaked myself right out, because if what I thought was true was indeed true then I was an impossibly small speck on an otherwise invisible planet in a vast reach of black cosmos full of other beings who didn't know I existed and the thought of who else was out there boggled my mind for weeks. I couldn't get over it.......it was as though I had discovered life itself and was tremendously scared of its possibilities.
I wondered about how other people saw me. Did I look the same to them as I did to me? How could I, I thought, because I could only look at a 2-D mirror image of me and they saw the real 3-D one? Did they notice a combination of features or the whole face and persona? Did they see me as I did? Which would be weird, because sometimes, just sometimes, when I looked at myself I didn't really see ME there. I was a face without a family, a set of features with no identity, a person I didn't really know. You know, maybe if you tried long enough you could do it too - look at yourself in a mirror and let your mind run free until you don't see "you" anymore, but a stranger. THEN, start to wonder about this stranger you see, and if you like them or not. I was 8 when I started doing this.
I wondered what happened to people after they died, and where they were before they were born. I wondered where they came from, and who they were before they became "them." It didn't seem possible to me that just skin and bones could be the real person; to me it was insupportable logic to say that a person is born who they are entirely because of their genetics, because how do yout then explain kids who like baseball over kick-the-can, and kids who would rather run in the woods than play tea-party? SOMETHING had to be afoot there, I thought, but still have no idea what. This I wondered when I was 9 or 10.
I also wondered what made my heart beat, and why I had fingerprints, and what wind was made of, and if you stood in a sunbeam long enough would you be able to fly, and when was I going to get that pony I wanted. I wondered if my bike could feel pain, and if a piano was happy when you played it, and if flies had language.
When we went on car trips, I wondered "who are all those people" in the houses we drove past---who were they in their houses on the hillsides or clustered in towns or shrugged into city blocks, all breathing and loving and eating and living with their names and lives and families that I didn't know. Who were they? What did they like? Were they watching TV or fighting or acting out a play or sleeping or wondering about someone like me? Why did they live where they did? Why did they choose that hillside, all damp with autumn rain and green like the bottom of a bottle, or that city block so crowded with people and diesel fumes and life, or that farm so far from everyone with the great meadow in which I was certain their children ran? Who were their parents, and where did they think their future was telling them to go? These things I had wondered ever since I can remember, and still, on a long ride, I imagine myself riding a great huge horse beside the car like I did when I was little, jumping over power lines and rivers, peeping into people's houses when their windows let me.
And I smile, because I know then that I never really ever grew up. Not all the way.