Never trust anyone over 30.
Once upon a time a young man, maybe not unlike my younger self, was still free of the burdens of responsibility and accountability that accumulate with time and experience and without the cynical armor that develops with repeated failures. He considered this maxim as he approached his birthday, pondered it’s reality and told himeslf that he would be different.
Exploring the possibilities of life,
expedient and convenient are often more appealing paths than hard work and ambitious discipline. Without thinking too much about it, the young man’s thinking shifts. He isn’t aware of the change- or if he is he can rationalize that he is just being responsible and mature in his thinking. He isn’t taking the easy road. He passed the barrier and deceived himself that it didn’t matter.
I look at the young man from a distance of 45 years. I marvel at his optimism and naiveté. I wonder what he might have accomplished if he had been more thoughtful and self-aware, if he hadn’t embraced his comfort zone.
Looking back at my life
the failures are monumental and ignored, my successes bewildering and un-celebrated. I directed my life from expedience and convenience. I responded and finessed my life rather than directing and mastering it. I discovered negative thinking.
I abandoned youthful dreams when they became difficult. I adjusted to the easy path even when it wasn’t leading where I wanted to go. I rejected challenge and adventure for convenience and comfort.
I convinced myself that I wouldn’t change. I persuaded myself that I was still the idealistic young man who dreamed about outrageous goals. I refused to see that I had become the untrustworthy person I had been warned about. I lied to myself.
It’s called responsibility.
There are many names for that change that mask its reality. People call it ‘taking responsibility’, ‘growing up’ or ‘being mature’. These are the acceptable synonyms for the compromises that individuals make to support civilization and family development and to ease their guilt.
What I decided at age 30 or so was to put away childish things and embrace responsibility. I forgot about chasing rainbows. I accepted my limitations, embraced modest goals and settled for average. If remarkable came my way, I would embrace it but ordinary was good enough. I wouldn’t break a sweat to rise out of the rut.
45 years later
a strange thing happened after the kids were gone and my career was over. Some vestiges of my under 30 self began to question what life was all about. I started to analyze the principles that had channeled my decisions to the easy path and the blinders that limited my vision of the possible. I wondered what my life might have been like had the under 30 me stayed true to his dreams and not morphed into the mature, responsible and boring man that had taken over.
I have entered a second childhood, or at least a second youth. I’ve begun to dream again and entertain outrageous goals, even taking steps to make them happen. In part this is driven by desperation as I face the realities of old age and death. My body is something I can no longer take for granted as it becomes less reliable and painful. I have to think before doing things now and to question how my body will respond. I know that this deterioration will continue and that my life is finite. I have a limited time to make those dreams a reality. It’s no longer important how other people see me.
So I let my dreams flow
and take active steps to accomplish them. I don’t know what is possible in the limited time I have left but I can’t afford to defer or delay. I can’t change the past 45 years but I can take a lesson from the old under 30 me and stay true to what is important. There isn’t much time left and I’m just getting started.
Whether you are over or under 30, the clock keeps ticking. you have only one lifetime and what you make of it is your legacy. So what do you intend to do with it?