The native attraction to one’s children or grandchildren – or, in our case, to one’s nieces and nephews – has an ineffable allure. Obviously the salient feature of notice is youth. This artistic conglomerate of springtime and salad days in turn invites a limitless capital of imagination and possibility. And there’s the ubiquitous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
A more pertinent issue I have discovered is, “What do you enjoy doing?” The applicability is nurtured by the potentially incendiary quip, “If you do what you like, you’ll like what you do”. Now I don’t expect an adolescent to have charted the career prescription for a financial advisor or an artist but at a very early age most people have at least an idea of what they enjoy doing, whether it is an intelligence rendered only in abstract terms such as enterprise or creativity.
Too often adults take the misstep of enticing youth to do what either the adults do themselves or what the adults figure they should have done if they had had their druthers or the opportunity. In either instance the recommendation is normally given charitably and with the best of intentions; but neither is astute. The view from the top of the world – the pinnacle from which every child wishes to see his or her own future – is not for example spirited by the noise or ambition to imitate others. Rather to fulfill whatever natural desire percolates within them; and accordingly to profit from those elemental juices and nutrition. And, yes, they too shall learn in due course that passage along the channels of discovery is never free from its singular burdens and obstructions no matter how desirable the initial ambition. But the complications or demands of self-expression are a far more tolerable penalty than taking the wrong road entirely. I have for example known a chap who, growing up, was surrounded by medical and legal professionals and who, as a result, succumbed to the unspoken zeal his family had for parallel commitment. It was wrong to have done so. Nor was the contamination restricted to his life alone. He married for similar reasons – that is, for the insinuated reasoning of others – a poison which commensurately destroyed both his marriage and his career in the most pitiable manner. To punctuate matters late in life he adopted what had always been his passion, theatre. By then however he was alone and had long ago exhausted the erstwhile blast and strength of youth though not its buoyancy and narcotic.
The discomposing truth of life is that no one is spared either serendipity or misfortune. If you’re interested in the safest, the easiest path, forget it! Ça n’existe pas! Billionaires die in private plane crashes. Models decline under the weight of alcoholism. Not everyone lives to be a hundred.
My apologies for the mournful demeanour. It is however a reminder to awaken to what is within sight – even from the top of the world above the clouds. There is still time to fly with the eagles; time to see what is in the distance; time to maintain the upward incline. And lest you think this is unforgivably quixotic, imagine instead your assessment of life from an armchair. The currency of that deductive conclusion is more hopefully expressed as an eclipse of the two ways to get down a river – knowing where to go or where not to go.