Last night I went into my basement and came across an old photo album of myself as a young child, you know before the stacks of papers and stress induced eye twitches. Upon dusting it off like some ancient artifact, I began to take notice of how happy I was and how care free times were. I mean don’t get me wrong there were plenty of pictures of me crying literally over spilled milk. But in every picture I was smiling like the Joker, with this maniacal smile.
It wasn’t before long I took a knee, and turned each page analyzing each picture like some scroll from another time. How could I go from this devil may care kid to this cynical 25-year old man, forced to take fish oil pills because he feels like he’s trapped in a 90-year old body.
There I was dressed as a ninja. Pretending to climb my makeshift tree fort like it were some Japanese castle, complete with my plastic katana and ninja stars used to knock opposing enemy samurai out of my path, and then vanish in a blanket of smoke in the shadows. Then another picture of me dressed as Chuck Norris, with a blond wig attached to my head flowing in the back round. I remembered this picture, and I wasn’t trying to pretend to be Chuck Norris, I actually thought I was Chuck Norris. And this was way before the Texas Ranger become cool. I’m talking about when he was still a tough S.O.B, using his foot like a weapon of mass destruction. The last picture I flipped to was myself in my Hulk Hogan pajamas, Hulk-a-mania headband, and foam heavyweight championship, standing over a defeated teddy bear, presumably after I pinned him 1-2-3 as a result of my devastating leg drop.
Being a child is all about that. Pretending. Acting out as things you want to be. Occupations, some real and some not, that as a kid you saw yourself as and nothing else. And maybe that’s why I was so happy. I was a mere child ignorant to the fact that there is a big secret in the world of adult-hood, a secret that basically states as we get older, life gets downright uglier. There are no more forts, no more rescuing damsels, no more scaling up dangerous cliffs and mountains in the neighborhood. And to an extent those days will be lost.
And it’s sad to think that at one point in time this happens to every child, this watershed moment where they have to put aside their “ foolish dreams” for a life more practical. Somewhere along the way a big part of my generation lost their way. Somewhere a child has given up on his dream of dodging asteroids and dancing with aliens as an astronaut to become a statistics analyst. Somewhere a child has been pushed into packing away the tight leather rock star pants and bandana to sit behind a desk and take on the exciting title of management information system’s consultant.
Now I see why this happens. Obviously the world operates on a gear system of green paper and coin. In saying that, sure you have this extravagant TV, the sports car so fast you will never even get to top it out on the road legally, and the house with so many bedrooms in it you start using them as guest rooms, even though you never have guests. Now I’m not trying to get all preachy on you, but what is the price of happiness?
In many cases, but not enough, people are fortunate and brave enough to not give up on their dreams completely, but to simply deviate a tad bit towards something else. The tree house constructor became the architect. The girl who brought home all those stray cats became the nurturing veterinarian. Or the kid who splashed paint all over the house became a graphic designer. As a child do you know what I never saw? A child sitting at his Fisher Price desk getting ready to file someone’s pretend taxes.
As a society all I would like to see more of is the idea of living a life of excitement and possibility instead of one idealized on the all mighty dollar sign at the cost of happiness. I have seen too many of my friends fall victim to this notion that you can settle. I have seen to many friends drop their dreams of being a fireman or a racecar driver to be become an agent for mediocrity.
As a child I used to drive with my mother through Stamford, Connecticut, and pass the WWE building (World Wrestling Entertainment) and tell her I would someday work there. And to an extent I have, penning articles as an intern. So perhaps I was never able to fly off the top rope with a diving elbow drop, but yeah, I can say I worked there, and walked the same hallways as some of my heroes. I can say I lived a childhood dream and came that much closer to making that like Hulk Hogan inside of me happier.