Ah to be young (really, really young) again. They say youth is wasted on the young. An entirely depressing sentiment to be sure but it turns out that without actively pursuing an alternate ending, ‘they’ could very well be right.
I would venture that if you were to dig deep into the recesses of your brain, beyond the catalog of terrible song lyrics (Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No. 5,’ anyone?), all the sing-songy ingredients of a Big Mac, and truly use your imagination, you’d likely find the dreams and aspirations of your youth past.
Think Past and Before You Began Adulting
A friend wanted to grow up to become a firetruck. How does that work when you are adulting?
My cousin? A bald eagle. A bird. Sure, a majestic bird of prey and sure, the national bird but still A BIRD.
And even then as a child myself – but still old enough to know that interspecies morphing sciences were yet underdeveloped – I remember so vividly knowing that we were never to corral or confine his dreams to the rigid constructs of reality.
But – SPOILER ALERT – he never grew up to be a bald eagle because as luck would have it, those pesky constructs made themselves right at home, and my cousin became an engineer. It’s a necessary result of adulting.
Incidentally, ‘pesky constructs’ notwithstanding, interspecies morphing sciences are still underdeveloped. (Translation: You still can’t turn a human into a bald eagle.)
Shocking, I know.
But in those moments of peace, you can leave adulting – even if for a second – to use your imagination to become anything you want.
As for me?
I wanted to be an astronaut. It seemed (totally) realistic enough. My math and science shortcomings be damned, I would become an astronaut, dammit, and no one would tell me otherwise.
Except they – or rather statistics – did. Because with a 0.00000081% chance of becoming a NASA astronaut in the history of the space program, I had a better chance of winning the lottery. Maybe even twice.
I’ll just see myself to the astronaut ice cream display in the back of the gift shop and call it a ‘shuttle mission,’ thank you very much.
So how does it come to be that adulting- many of us ‘adult’ by technicality only – learn to eventually not use your imagination and settle somewhere in suburban mediocrity?
We amble along, adrift in the tides of life – work, family and obligatory social engagements (wash, rinse, repeat) – completely consumed by the busy-ness, with nary a discernable morsel of the reckless abandon with which we once dreamed so freely.
It’s so easy – far too easy – to lose yourself.
The TPS reports, the carpool line, the questionable chicken you defrosted three days ago that you must cook tonight all take precedence.
And fair enough. It’s life after all, and life always manages to get in the way of our very best intentions.
When Did You Learn Not Use Your Imagination?
But where do dreams go?
Do we bury them?
Do we rationalize them to dream death?
At what point do we seemingly all accept being alive as a consolation prize to living?
Because at our final curtain call, our lives will not be measured in numbers or metrics or ladder rungs – or even the number of candles on a cake.
It will be defined by the passion with which you lived it, the passion for your impact, your influence and your legacy.
Turns out, the dreams are always there, buried under a rusty middle school Spanish vocabulary and next to the name of the third person you kissed.
They’re there, regardless of how far into adulting you are. They do require practice and work to bring them out. How? Use your imagination and use it often.
Crap. Did I leave the garage door open?
There it is again. Adulting instinct. Reality interfering with imagination.
The intrusive, interrupting internal dialogue of the menial and mundane.
FOCUS. Control + Alt + Delete. Close all tasks.
Now maybe, just maybe, you can do one thing for yourself.
One thing that reignites the fire in your belly that you drowned out those many years ago.
As for me?
Someone call Richard Branson and tell him to save me a seat.
I call shotgun.