A few days ago I had an urge to do something I have not done for years. I wanted to curl up with one particular book, listening to one particular type of music. Forget about bills, work, ironing … all the grown-up stuff. The catalyst was a very old friend who reminded me some of the things I loved when I was thirteen.
It is incredible how being reminded of something you once cherished can take you straight back in time to the last time you held it so close to your heart. It got me thinking about being thirteen again. On the brink of a whole new world, a pristine path with no mistakes stretching out before me. A whole life to build. Everything so fresh and new.
Thinking back, what I missed most about being thirteen was being able to lose myself in my passions. To, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, start a ten-year project and abandon it after ten minutes. To be filled with enthusiasm, confidence, dreams … To throw everything into the air and see where the pieces landed.
When did we stop doing that? When did living for the moment become living for the future. When did everything become “one day” and not “today.”
My son was telling me about what he wants to do when he’s older. Where he wants to study, what he wants to do afterwards. Maybe that is when it starts. We ask our children, ‘What do you want to be when you grow-up?’ As soon as we start doing that, we force them to live in the future, not in the present. We make it sound as though childhood is just a place-filler before their real lives begin.
I know what I want to do when I retire.
Maybe I would be better served thinking about what I want to do in the thirty years before I get there.