Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Continent of Childhood

In a land that lies between... 

"Ancient times" 
"What the future may hold"... 

The Continent of Childhood, a place where youth is endlessly overvalued, and people have not ceased to genuflect before the youthful features of their youngest citizens. The Continent of Childhood is in a state of continual preoccupation with the period between childhood and adult age; a period associated with freshness, vigor, and celebrated adolescence. Boyhood, girlhood, childhood... "the next generation" is the favorite generation to which everyone wishes to belong. 

He's "still young" is the catchphrase of this land. Wooed by the time of life when the biological processes of development and aging seem to take on a mythical appearance, the Continent of Childhood began to demand the qualities of youth. No longer content with "growing up," the youth of this land filed a proclamation that adulthood was associated with a state of catastrophe in being. In order to meditate on this new concept, the entire land took 

A Great Nap


The Great Nap was a period between the 1960s and the 1990s in which society began priding themselves on their "youthful appearance". To become an adult became a synonym for catastrophe. Aging became a tragic and tyrannical mistake in a land where children, even the youngest, had more to teach an adult than visa versa. 

Slowly, all the old folks (those individuals over the age of 40) were rounded up and sent off to the country's coastal forests where they could live out their days in a wooded mountain overlooking the region from afar. Against a backdrop of ice mountains, the adults lived out their days reminiscing about what life was like when they "were young". 

As the Peter Pan Syndrome swept across the land, the adults were reduced far below the ordinary standards of viability and extracted from civilized life. This, of course, naturally brought about an underground industry of identification reassignment and reconstructive surgery. Anything to "buy some time" for the citizens of this youth-loving society. 

This extolling of youth culture resulted in a society who simply refuses to leave the world of the imaginary. To speak to the youth-loving populace, scholars, initially content with their lives as adults, began analyzing fairy tales, seeking out the philosophical or psychological significance in children's comics, and classifying Dr. Seuss as great literature. To write on any topic not associated with childhood was considered Captain Hook'ian-like blasphemy. 

What became of the adults in the Continent of Childhood, you ask? 

They disappeared! 

There is a legend that tells of a group of renegade adults who, tiring of being undervalued, began searching for the famed Fountain of Youth. Setting up laboratories along the country's coastal forests, they began experimenting with the raw materials they scavenged up around the wide area of treeless marshland that lie beyond the coast forest. Roaming countless small islands and channels of water, they discovered a sea urchin that lived for an extraordinary long time without showing signs of aging, or other age-related diseases. Due to their high genetic similarity to humans, the renegade scientists in this group of misfitted elders soon discovered that these sea urchins were directly relevant to human biology. Supposedly they discovered how these animals lived such long and healthy lives and began identifying novel strategies to keep humans looking younger for longer periods of time. 

Utilizing these sea urchins as model organisms to identify pathways involved in cellular resistance to the effects of aging and disease (which helped them target the development of anti-aging treatment in humans), as well as the mechanisms involved in maintaining a youthful state, these grown-ups, previously considered "washed up" had actually accumulated enough knowledge as the years went by to figure out how proteins from young sea urchins could be injected into humans to resist age-causing agents, to increase cellular defense and repair mechanisms, and to regenerate and repair tissue. 

Mitigating cellular oxidative damage, the adults, heretofore ostracized from their homeland and looking younger than they did when they were first banished, began sneaking back into their old bedrooms. Running back home became the new bedtime story for generations of children fearful of the time when they too would grow up, and would have to face being excluded, by general consent, from society, friendship, conversation, and the privileges of their land. 

Rumor has it that the return of older, more experienced adults resulted in a general dissent from the underbelly of society, a revolution of adulthood, a counterculture message that adulthood could be a wonderful state, more intense, richer, more exciting and more intelligent than the world of the child. An opportunity to end the reign of the Child King and the myth that one is "all washed up" after "a certain age". 

There is still great dissent among the citizens of this land that demands the qualities of youth: a quality of imagination, an appetite for adventure over the life of ease, but those who have journeyed here claim that the 'carrot-and-stick pedagogy' is slowly changing into a 'carrots are good for you mindset'. 

It may sound ludicrous to imagine such a continent, but it is very real... just look outside your door, turn on your television set, surf the web to see 'what's trending now' and you'll not see grown-ups pictured on those images, you'll see tiny little whippersnappers, ankle-biters, and teeny-boppers. 

Children rule the markets, dictating adult buying decisions, and are now the largest consumer group in the world. Unless you want to return to sleeping on Spiderman or Littlest Cupcake bedsheets, you might wish to consider whether or not you wish to buy into society's dictum that youth is the supreme state of being. If you buy into this mindset, you might just be setting yourself up for expulsion from the world you've worked your entire life to build ... 

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