5.23.2013

What If...


Growing up I was always haunted by the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Adults, friends, parents, everyone (it seemed) wanted to know and expected an answer. Particularly because my intelligence was apparent at a young age, I was expected to have a career in mind. At five. At seven. At twelve. At twenty-five. The first thing I can recall wanting to be was a veterinarian  Simply because I liked animals and they liked me. Simple, right? I also recall wanting to be a fighter pilot. An artist. A fashion designer. A chef. And a professor. And then I thought maybe I could just get rich quick being in finance and have enough money to play at a young age. A lot of the kids I grew up with assumed I'd be something interesting. Yet, at 30, I was wedged firmly into my golden cage of a desk-job making too much money to leave and was too unhappy to have saved any of it. I'd spent a lifetime trying to be "something when I grew up" and while it never sat quite right inside my gut, I did it anyways. I was an adult. I spent from the time I was 2 years old until 32 years old doing what I was told to do, half-believing that it would "all pay off in the end" and trying to suppress that I felt nothing with any of these "achievements". My title meant nothing. My job meant nothing. My salary meant nothing. My office meant nothing. My paycheck meant nothing. I wanted to scream, "WHO CARES!?!?" I felt like I was suffocating. This is NOT my life. This isn't what I was meant to be doing with my time. The Universe did not smash together billions of particles of stardust, water, matter and life to form my unique being only to have me working day-in and day-out in a meaningless, passionless existence.

I woke up this morning and sent Adam off to deliver the meals we create to our drop zones and routes. I stood outside and stretched, enjoying the morning air, the sunlight, and checking on our flowers we neglected for years. It dawned on me, I know what I want to do. 

I want to live my life, for a living. I want to just be alive. 

I want to wake up naturally, when my body is ready, not to the clang of an alarm. I want to stretch my body and let it get into the flow of movement - maybe by making tea, maybe by doing a few sun salutations, maybe by just dodging the weaving of the cats as I head to the living room. I want each day to have a purpose - a dedication - a meaning. I want to add value to the world, even if it's just our tiny microcosm of the world - from relocating a snail out of the path or cooking food to nourish healthy bodies or write words that give hope and jostle thoughts. I want to work hard and thoroughly throughout the day doing what is necessary - creating life, food, plants, tending to animals, tending to myself and Adam. I want to go to bed tired, full of accomplishment and satisfaction. And every day, day-in and day-out, until my days run out and my spirit is free from my body, I want to do just that. 

So what if we didn't have to be something when we grow up? Would that be so bad? What if we worked towards becoming the best version of ourselves we could be? What if we practiced at being good human beings? Good friends? Good wives and husbands? Good parents? What if we cared less about the things we could acquire and more about who we were? What if our success was based off how much compassion we had? How much inner peace? How much love? How much good we've done in a day? What if only the people who loved to heal were doctors? And only the people who loved to teach, taught? And so-on and so-forth? What if every child were asked, "What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up?" instead of, "What do you want to be?" Imagine a world where people lived lives full of contentment. Where we did what we wanted to on our own schedules. Where the night-owls could work at night and the early-birds could rise and work early. Where we paid each other in value, not in a predetermined amount set by someone else who's only concern is to get a slice of the pie? 

Maybe I'm crazy, but I spent 30 years of my life working too hard for something that brought me nothing. And this? This concept? It brings me so much relief. I didn't know that I've been holding my breath for thirty years until I finally was able to breathe again. I want to live my life for a living. I want to enjoy every day until the day I die without regret, remorse, or wishing I had done more. Nothing incites fear in me like idea of toiling for someone else's dreams and profit for 40 years so that I can "retire well" one day only to find that I'm too old or unable to enjoy my time. We are taught to wait until retirement to really have the time and life we want - to relax, travel, spend time with family... but what if that's too late? What if you die before then? What if (like so many of our parents), retirement doesn't come at 50? 60? 70? What if we retire at 81 or 94 hardly able to dress ourselves for our jobs, nonetheless explore the world or build a home? Why not build a life we enjoy so much now that we don't need to retire from it? Why not build a community of like-minded friends and family who will care for each other as we age instead of cast us away as useless?

I feel like the answer I was searching for all these years was here all along right under my nose. It was just too simple and too easy. I needed something complex and confusing, with many stages, steps and processes. Nevermind that my heart always wanted to answer, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" with, "I want to create things for a living and be happy". Sure, we will still need money to get us from here to there, but it will come from doing what we love, by being who we are, and by offering our best selves to the world in hopes it tips the balance a little more towards love. And for once in my life, I know, it's all going to work out just fine.

1 comment:

Jami said...

This blog reminded me of a quote of the Baz Luhrmann "Wear Sunscreen" which has always been one of my favorite things to listen to. This particular quote:
"Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people
I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don't."
I'm so happy for you Rose. :)