The paradox of life is that we seem to be content with being discontent. I mean, how many of us can say that we have everything we want and that we’re doing exactly what we’ve always dreamed? Not many, I’m sure.
It seems like as we grow older, life loses its lustre. You realise that the carousel you rode as a child – the one that looked as if it came straight out of a fairy-tale – is cracked and chipped and the stench of broken dreams hangs stale in the surrounding air.
This disillusionment with life gets to me sometimes. As childhood slips out of our reach, our dreams seem to go with it. We’re forced to become “realistic” and go to law school because music isn’t a real career. We chose to major in Chemistry because daddy says “painting doesn’t pay”. And worst of all, we sort of accept this as a normal part of life.
Instead of fighting for what we want and what we know will make us happy, we concede. We trade in our big dreams for a well-paying desk job and become exactly the type person we swore we never would. And why? Because it’s what society expects of us. We have to grow up and become responsible adults. We have to get decent jobs so we can send our children to school so that they can get decent jobs and send their children to school.
Gone is the astronaut, the princess, the pirate. Gone is the rock star and the superhero. Eventually, we settle into our lives and swallow the minor discomfort of losing a piece of ourselves in return for the illusion of stability. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are content and that everything is exactly as we’ve always wanted it to be. One day, we’ll be able to sit down with our grandchildren and tell them all about the pranks we played in high school, the wonderful people we met at university and that big case we won twenty years ago that got our face on the third page of the Sunday paper… but there are stories we will not tell.
We will never tell of how we talked our best friend into travelling to Romania on a whim with nothing but a backpack between us. We will never tell of the nerves and excitement before our first live performance in a crowded stadium or our first art exhibition in New York.
And no, not all of our dreams are larger than life, but there is always something…something you loved and let go because someone decided you were wasting your time with your head in the clouds.
We tuck our pretty dreams away in a box in the back of our heads and settle into the comfortable, but worn armchair of the life we’ve chosen. We accept what we think we cannot change and become content with being discontent. We’ll never touch the box again… it hides the stories we will never tell.