Updated: May 19
A great threat to our well-being is the fact that we begin to fade long before we can sense ourselves diminishing. The process begins very young, about age twenty or so, when we begin to settle and - more dangerously - begin to put things aside. When we tell ourselves we'll take up later what we sense we should really begin today. For many of us this is the beginning of an end we may live to regret, and the guarantee of a much later irrelevance we may have the misfortune to outlive.
The end begins when we settle for a life which is familiar, safe, easy or convenient when we really desired something more. And when we put aside what is desired, dreamed of, calling or wished for because it is difficult, or not the right time just now, or because we know a better chance is certainly just around the corner... And instead of becoming that person we dream to be, we settle instead for the dream of the common man or woman. Now, if your dreams are common dreams then perhaps this blog post isn't intended for you. Your course is a separate one. And your satisfactions perhaps realized in a very different way. My little blog post here may even offend you a bit...all this talk of the common man...what's that about? That isn't my intent. I wish you no ill will. My purpose and my audience now are those other young men and women who imagines something more that the common dream. Hmmmm... Maybe that's you after all? What do you think?
Between age twenty and twenty-five you might hear a calling of sorts. Not a real calling of course, there's nobody to call you. What you sense is your own ambition welling up inside. It's your youth speaking. Your lust and your passion and your energy and your very life itself. Something inside knows now is the time. What will you do?
I'm not saying you won't get another chance. But you won't. Not this same chance anyway. There's the rub. That's the risk. What you trade now for the comfort of not upsetting anyone or going against the common way is the thing you'll have to carry for the rest of your life. It's the person you will become. The person you cannot undo. And it's not that this person is bad - though he or she may be rather dull by comparison with what you might have otherwise become. You'll never know. Maybe you're better off this way. Tell yourself that. You'll never know. That again, is the rub...you'll never know.
So, what's this got to do with irrelevance? Well, what's both novel and true is relevant to every age and time and perspective. Novelty and truth stand out. Especially novelty and truth which are borne of a sincere effort of living. It's the novel perspective you gain of that life you might yet live. That benefit will be yours for the rest of your life - no matter how old you grow, or how feeble you become - you will always be that you which you pursued. Pursue it not and you'll be left again with becoming the common man or woman. Not a bad thing. But what's common is easy to miss. Easy to ignore. Easy to disregard. Irrelevant, perhaps. Very easy to be one day utterly forgotten.
Later, maybe in our fifties, the reality will start to catch up. But it catches up only in hindsight, and way too late to do much of anything about. We're maybe too old then. We're too frail and scared, too set in our old ways. And worst of all, our time and opportunities are past. We've spent our youthful capital on waiting. There's little left to barter with now. Our story is almost over - even if we have decades left to live.
This is the price and the risk of avoiding risk. And also the price and risk of waiting too long. This all begins around age twenty and the chance is largely passed by age thirty-five. Be VERY careful what you choose from this point forward. Especially if you are young and have little to lose and everything to gain. Irrelevance begins early. Earlier than you might like to think.
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.