Like a tadpole hatched into a shallow puddle, oblivious to the vast universe beyond the murky water that engulfed me… I was immersed… inescapably… in the rituals and myths of my home town.
Every day… families, friends, neighbors, teachers, preachers and I went about our business of baptisms, circumcisions, kindergarten, grammar school, pledges of allegiance, homework, graduations, workweeks, weekends, chores, Sunday sermons, weddings, funerals, little league, the world series, twelve gun salutes, parades, fireworks, elections, national anthems, the movies, and television. I accepted these customs as just the way things are… that they were good for me… good for everyone.
Over time, I discerned recurring patterns amid this tangle of activity. A certain word… a spank on the bottom… a particular tone of voice… a subtle glance… told me what was fact and what was fiction… what was holy and what was evil… who to trust and who to fear… rightly or wrongly. I learned what they thought was important and true… by watching and listening… day after day for thousands of days.
And so, I laughed when they laughed, scoffed when they scoffed. I recited what they recited and worshipped what they worshipped.
There seemed no need to ask why… because I just assumed that so many adults must be infinitely smarter and wiser than me. Of course they knew better. Of course they had everything under control. Of course they had my best interests at heart.
There was no desire for escape, because there seemed to be no need for escape… at the time.