Between childhood and adulthood exists a space where anything is possible. It is free of the dictates of parents, teachers, and the other real and perceived authorities of childhood. It precedes the onerous burden of societal conventions, spousal dictates, the life of material responsibility. The people occupying this space are free. And yet this land of freedom in which my peers and I hover seems constrained as is no other: by the inability to escape an obdurate reality.

Allow me to explain: I am empowered to make decisions with ramifications that can haunt me for the rest of my life. I man a two-ton vehicle that moves at sixty miles an hour. I teach a class of sixty, entrusted with hours of their every day. I elect the representatives and leaders of my choice, influencing policy that affects the lives of millions. I am only twenty years old, yet I am encouraged, nay, exhorted, to pull levers and triggers that become boosters and bullets in the hearts of individuals and states.

And yet, I am denied all the clever little things man has invented to soothe his troubled soul. Real adults can mess up their lives much the way I can, but they can then dissolve their guilts in clouds of smoke, drown their sorrows in alcohol, lose their failures at the slot machines. No such anesthetic is offered me (not legally, anyway), and I must live life aware always of an inexorable reality.

It seems somehow unfair. Children don't have responsibilities, they don't see a harsh world to confront, so they don't need to escape. "Real adults" have the world on their shoulders — and all those placebos to escape that world. And then there's me, with an awareness of what is and no way to get out of it.

The Christian concept of confession always seemed to me just another way for the sinner to numb his senses to the ramifications of his deed. Rather than live forever with the knowledge and guilt of what he's done, a person utters a one-time confession and — poof, he is forgiven, and never has to think of it again. But then I realized that Judaism too has the precept for confession. In the daily prayers, and then in the Shema recited before sleep, we recite the vidduy, confessions. Does that mean that we, too, practice escapism?

The answer, of course, is the one crucial difference between the Christian confession and the vidduy we recite: the absolution. I confess to my sins, but nobody stands there to wipe the guilt from my heart, to intone: "You are forgiven." Yes, I've acknowledged my misdeeds, but acknowledgement doesn't do away with them, and for the rest of my life I will do the very same acknowledging three times a day. And so rather than absolution, the Jewish confession brings awareness, forcing us to everyday acknowledge the challenges and realities of our world, and thus the impetus to work for a better tomorrow.

I've survived two years of a no-way-out life, and I'm left to wonder: perhaps this is what all of life is meant to be? To recite vidduy, not just before death, but every day of our lives. To take action, without the wherewithal to obliterate it from our hearts, and carry it with us forever. To go into battle with our eyes wide open. Perhaps by having the courage to face our lives and the lives they affect, by seeing how life is and how it should be, we can preserve our morality for the next generation — us in a month, five years, ten.