November 24, 2012

What Happens To Our Dreams As We Get Older

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What is the issue?

Once upon a time mistakes were far more tolerable than they are now. Almost to a point where they were expected. We could make ‘em and at worst an adult lectured us, but there weren’t any life-altering consequences. It was trial and error, but as clocks tick, coupons expire and years pass, our plates are piled up with higher stakes and more responsibilities. Actions must be taken, obligations must be fulfilled and we have to be efficient… or else.

Everything seems so extreme now. Consider certain scenarios 15+ years ago: Messing with the wrong girl/guy in elementary school got you cooties, but do that now and you might catch an STD that all the circle, circle, dot, dots in the world won’t cure. That example applies to every other aspect of life, including trying to achieve goals. Taking a chance back in the day meant coloring the grass blue instead of green like it is in reality. Nowadays taking a chance might mean chasing your dream and sacrificing some serious green, which a lot of people aren’t willing to do.

It’s like our bodies grew bigger, belief in ourselves and imaginations got smaller and our willingness to risk crashing and burning for the possibility of glory disintegrated entirely. As The Office’s Darryl put it: “You live a sweet, little, nerfy life. Sitting on your biscuit, never having to risk it.” (The term “nerfy” meaning soft and protected.) Bars have been raised, duties have multiplied and our self-enforced leash has gotten so tight that if we even think about veering off, it chokes us back to a comfortably boring position.

Obviously we have to grow up to some degree. Yes, it’d be awkward to see a grown man playing with action figures and sporting grass stains on his work attire, but why can’t we maintain our hopeful child selves? Kids are genuinely positive because they know no better. When you feel the disappointment of failure it takes a toll. Nobody wants to experience denial and the only guaranteed way to avoid it is not putting yourself out there at all. We think, the universe can’t push us off the mountain if we don’t climb it in the first place. But to that same token we have no shot at seeing and experiencing the top of the mountain living so guardedly.

Being a responsible adult doesn’t necessarily mean standing at the bottom where it’s safe. I mean, if all that your current situation has going for it is the lack of caution tape and harmless appeal, that’s bad news. I’m not sure when content became a sufficient substitute for happy, but we shouldn’t allow it to be. As a kid, I remember sometimes being extremely careful when coloring. I didn’t want even the tiniest stroke of crayon getting outside the lines. I think that type of overly careful, stuck-in-the-box mindset can carry into adulthood and fester in a personality, creating a nerfy individual.

Someday, sooner rather than later since tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, we should say screw it. We should risk the harshest of consequences. We should grab that crayon and color wherever we please, without any regard for what seems like the most fathomable, realistic outcome. These chances we take could end in a fiery smash, bang explosion that takes months – maybe even years to recuperate from. But then again, what if it doesn’t? It wouldn’t matter if we gracefully glided or stumbled and fell atop the mountain, it’d just be awesome to get there.

I know it’s different. Little kid you was playing with house money whereas now it’s coming straight out of pocket — but bank on yourself. Little kid you would put all the eggs in one basket. Little kid you had an imagination. Little kid you didn’t have rent due next week, but little kid you also didn’t have full control of his/her life. Unless we want to look back resenting our twenty/thirty-something self for our risk-free ways, we should be the little kid version of ourselves and sloppily color purple mountains with blue and yellow snow at the top… That sounds like code for doing some type of drugs, but it’s meant to say just go for it. Whatever “it” is for you. TC Mark

image – Shutterstock
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