The older we get, the more we long to be like a child. In diapers we start, and for most, in diapers we end. But that is not the childhood we long to embrace once more. It is the childish faith and carefree nature that makes childhood so beautiful that we miss the most.
People always tell us not to care what others think. But not caring doesn't make very much money. Celebrities tell us just to be ourselves and things will work out, but their lifestyle has made them forfeit objectivity. Why do we look to outliers as our guide to happiness?
If most celebrities were honest, they would tell you they aren't themselves. They are who we want them to be. When the money dries up, you'll find out who a celebrity really is on the inside. Very few people have a personality so unique that it is worth millions.
Many of us hate who we are or, more accurately, what we've become. It is why the final scene in Mr. Deeds doesn't strike us as a comedy so much as a tragedy. We remember what it was like to dream. We remember what it was like to have anything in the world be possible. And we remember what each crushing blow to our pinnacle of possible achievement felt like as we watched the amazement of what is possible erode into a less impressive dream of what is obtainable.
We used to look up at the stars and picture how we would climb to capture one. Slowly people around us began chopping down our dream by arguing to be realistic until we no longer looked so high. Slowly the star descended as our motivation to climb was smothered by discouragement disguised as guidance. Finally, the star fell to meet our horizontal gaze only to be nothing more than an asterisk. We could no longer pursue a real star because chasing such a dream was deemed foolish and unrealistic. So we had to settle for something more obtainable. Something more realistic. And we lost our passion for dreaming.
Notice how our gaze shifts downward until the point we are only peering straight on the horizon. We stop yearning to reach our potential and accept that who we are is sufficient. Because we have achieved something attainable, we no longer strive for the unknown.
We settle into jobs to make money and, if we are honest, we feel dissatisfied. Some people say they love what they do, but how many of those people are lying? With all the complaining people do, how many people actually love their job?
Maybe the scariest thing for people our age is thinking about the jarring plausibility that we may settle into a job where all we look forward to is two weeks of vacation time every year — 40 years of work for 560 days of excitement.
The idea that everyone is working just to make it to the weekend is such a horrible way to think about what the future might hold. To think we would turn down our dream at some false sense of security shows how little passion we have about becoming more than what the world wants for our existence.
A child might appear foolish, but how reliable is the wisdom of the wise? How many sure things in this world turn out to be unreliable? How many of us have taken the safe bet only to discover that the safe bet is no guarantee? The only truth about the future is you know as much as I do, and anyone that disagrees with our view is as foolish as we are.
The reality is, as much as it pains us to admit it, we wish we had gone after that star when we had the chance. Now we have handcuffed ourselves to a life we don't enjoy living. As we long to jump, we feel tethered to the earth, stuck where we are no matter how hard we try to climb. If we even attempt to climb, we will be yanked back down to earth because our desire to rise will only lead to an inevitable downfall. We want to look up again, but the star looks farther away than before. We feel hopeless, moving through a mundane life at a pace that will lead us to ask, "Where did the time go?"
If we have to work, why not climb the mountain instead of following footsteps? When we follow footsteps, we end up accomplishing what has already been done. So why not go a direction no one else has thought to go?
If we don't have to be defined by our work, how do we determine where we go? How do we take the talent we have been given and use it for a purpose? Is the real-world as dull and hopeless as it seems? If employment is not synonymous with satisfaction, then why do we put value in job titles?
I still have the desire to reach the stars, but people are chopping down my potential. And I am losing faith in how far I can go. I can accomplish anything, but it feels like I am trying to do everything.
So I am still asking, who am I?