As an adolescent, I dreamed of running away. I dreamed of living on my own, off the wilderness and traveling freely. I read so many survival books, they seemed to have overtaken a shelf of their own on my bookshelf in my sparsely decorated room. Books on edible plants and foliage, books on how to make your own wilderness traps and books by Jack London all shared the same wooden shelf.
I dreamed of escape.
I dreamed of a life filled with learning.
I dreamed of a life that is faced on my own terms. Where money didn’t matter, where relationships mattered and where I succeeded on my own merit and knowledge.
Then, almost unwillingly, I joined the Navy.
I suffered culture shock, homesickness, loss, and stared into the pit of loneliness.
Those were my years of coming of age after being culturally sheltered from the world.
My wanderlust and passion for discovering myself and this country waned. I don’t begrudge those years or what I learned but, now, looking back from where I am to where I was and what I wanted, I feel a sense of loss.
My youth was filled with dreams of going to Alaska, traveling by boat to the Galapagos, seeing the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. Enjoying all the sights, sounds and experiences this world has to offer. Most of all, I miss the passion for knowledge, the lust for learning and the energy for experiencing all that life has to offer.
I’d like to say that I could point my finger at one person or incident in my life that knocked me off my course. But I can’t. Because by doing so would mean I would not be the man I am today. I wouldn’t have my daughter, my family or the ones who care about me most in my life.
No, instead, I have become what I never wanted to become. I’m a man who is chained to the tasks of daily life in a prison so to speak. A prison built by my own hands out of love and concern for those closest to me.
The dreams and passions of my youth have passed me by, so that I can try to make a better place for my progeny. So that future generations will have opportunities I cannot even fathom at this mid-stage of my life. I am but a cog in a great machine. A machine called life.
Occasionally, like tonight, my young self rears its adamant and arrogant thoughts and demands an explanation. My answer is always the same. My daughter. My progeny. My future. And my living will to the world beyond me.
Mr. Jefferson wrote that the land is for the living. That our constitution should be re-written every generation. I suppose that should go for us to, the living. The middle age and semi-wise. We are not here now for our own hubris. No, instead, we are here to ensure the future through our actions and ensure options for those who come behind us.
In short, we are here to give our kids a better world.
What does that mean?
Well, you’re asking the wrong person. I don’t know. I wish I did, I’d be a millionaire if I knew. However, I do know that if you put in the time with your kids, if you teach them, if you show interest in their lives and passions, you will not be disappointed and the rewards will be endless.
Which is why I do all that I do.
I want a better place for my daughter, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren and more.
I don’t want to be a forgotten footnote in someone’s genealogical study of their past.
Yes, I wanted to discover who and what I am. I got sidetracked, but in that sidetrack I did discover who and what I was. I am a father, a husband an actor, a writer, a tinkerer and a man who refuses to quit.
I still have dreams of traveling the world. Seeing ancient places and meeting new people from cultures I’ve never heard of. I still have a passion for learning and sucking out the marrow of life, but I’m not willing to pay the price of my child’s future for it. Instead, I have books with beautiful pictures. I have the internet with videos of all the things I’ve wanted to see in person to fill my mind. I have the stories of others, written on pages by their own hand or some hired ghost writer to tell me what they’ve experienced.
I only hope that one day, when I’m feeble, stuck in a wheel chair or a crappy hospital bed, my child or grandchild or even great-grandchild will come to my side and tell me all about their wonderful adventure into the world and that knowing I had some small part in their growth and life altering experience will be enough for me to pass on into another realm.
Have a great week.