When I was little I had what was to be later determined as a "very small understanding of the universe" So small in fact that all the information I was able to gather together in my slightly oversized noggin was garnered from overheard conversations, and animated movies. I had an awareness of grown up people problems and issues of the day, for instance the environment, because of the move Ferngully I knew about acid rain and was thusly terrified to go outside when it was cloudy. But simply because of the fact that I didn't have a lot of knowledge didn't stop me from thinking big thoughts, much to my own detriment.
One particularly cloud-less day I was playing outside, probably because my mother had forced me to, and decided to go for a little stroll. I was swinging on the swings at the back of our house and decided to walk over to the well at the slight bottom of a hill. I liked going to a well because it had a fun lever thing that moved easily and I could turn the water off and on as many times as I wanted. I liked pushing buttons, and flicking switches, and pulling the lever up and pushing it down provided a great deal of satisfaction. I don't know what it was about this particular walk to the old well that sparked a change in my inner monologue but very suddenly, and very drastically it went from: "I'm hungry. Candy. Look a bee! I like levers. Candy. Blah blah blah." to "Why am I here?"
No, I was not merely confused as to why I was outside when at any moment the earth could pour acid down upon me, nor was I pondering why I so relished pushing buttons, and operating levers (control issues) but why was I (as a person) on this earth. What was here before I was here? What will exist afterwards? For a kid that was mainly concerned with sneaking spoonfuls of sugar onto his cereal every morning and raiding the tickle-trunk to reenact various movie scenarios, an existential crisis such as this threw me for a loop. I remember slightly stumbling on the path to the well, when the question hit me. What was the meaning of life? What was in the cards for old Daniel Dalman? What purpose did he serve? And I remember feeling the heavy weight come boring down on me when I knew I would never know the answer. At times like this and when faced with all other problems which I felt unprepared for, or unwilling to deal with, I did what came naturally- I began to bawl uncontrollably and ran to my mother. Sure she was probably washing the floor, or enjoying a brief sigh of relief in my absence but this was a matter concerning not only me, but the universe- I needed some answers! I needed to be calmed! I needed to be reassured that I had a purpose!
I don't know what she said to me when I ran across her freshly washed floor; maybe she told me my purpose was to be a little boy, maybe she told me to plan another cat wedding, maybe she told me to stop being so dramatic, but whatever it was I felt better afterwards. I stopped thinking about it for the time being, and focused on the really important things like getting out of emptying the dishwasher, and hiding the remote from my brother. But from time to time the question sneaks back into my, still, slightly oversized head. What is my purpose? What is my destiny? Am I meant to be here? Writing in this dark quiet shabby apartment; is this all that life has in store for me?
If at first you don't succeed, I say to myself when I can't come up with an answer, just run away crying till someone consoles you.