Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dreams...

Ramblings 1: Dreams

I am about to go into my thirties. In a few months, like all of my generation, I will become a true adult. I will have to shed, albeit begrudgingly some of the attitudes that had defined my twenties. I will have to reflect on my future and determine what I plan to do with the remaining years of my life.


I am not getting any younger. My body tells me that I have reached that inevitable plateau where the decisions I’ve been indulging myself with in my youth have now caught up to me. Or at least they are slowly catching up. My joints ache with the cold weather and my body no longer rebounds as it once had when faced with stress and illness. Bit by bit, it is losing and this will continue to battles the ravages of age as the years roll by.

Thirty years. Its just a number, they say. Maybe…

Six years of innocent childhood, fifteen years of education and under nine years working. That about sums it up. Time sure flies so fast.

I came across a note I scribbled fourteen years ago. It was a page from a forgotten notebook which somehow made its way back to me from a nearly discarded mountain of paper trash. It lists the dreams I harbored at that point in time. It is both funny and rather tragic looking at it now. 

The list goes like this.

(The first number is the age.)

16: graduate secondary school (Done – it was a breeze)

20: finish a four year course (I was in high school at this time and I was contemplating whether to undergo accountancy leading to law or pre med. By a series of coincidences, I ended up in engineering.)

25: finish law degree or medicine (with allotment for board exams)

28: Stable job by then (though I never did go into law or medicine, to a certain degree, I did achieve this goal when I finally became a permanent employee of my company)

30: A vacation perhaps to the US mainland (ROFL. Yeah right? At this point in time, I am barely solvent financially. And to consider the financial requirements and time needed to get a US VISA, this is way off the mark. ROFL Although, this particular dream is achievable as the US border is a few miles near my current address.)

32: Have a child by then. (I look at this part with certain sorrow. Sadly while I am probably qualified to be a family person with my job and all, I am unfortunately unprepared for this decision and thus I must defer. But who knows? It may happen. If it were up to me though, I wouldn’t commit. And I fear that I’ll be alone for most of my days… it would seem)

33: Have a business. (The sad reality of the economy is this: rarely does one reach success as an employee. We end up devoting the majority of our lives to employment and end up with paltry retirement benefits which barely make ends meet when we reach the twilight of our years. It’s an unfortunate truth. The best way to insure a good retirement is to take risks and business offers one of the best options out of this rut. I am rather proud that the young me who wrote this all those years ago recognized that. However, the depressing truth remains. To do business, one needs capital. And if my current state of life continues on its present course, this has the making of another pipe dream. But I am committed to achieve this.)

40: Early retirement. (Let me clarify this one. If this plan works without a hitch, this means that when I turn 40, I should be resigned from my job, my business is doing fine to support me and my family. I’d probably have a farm somewhere down in La Union where I spend my days in idle introspection, writing books and taking life as it comes. I still aim for this for I could not see myself spending my thirties to my early sixties still slaving my ass off for some employer. Life is too short to waste on eight hour five day workweeks. If I allowed it, I’d probably retire in my sixties with probably a few things to show for it. I will not spend my life shackled thus.)

50: My first born is probably on a job and I can finally devote myself to other matters. (No comment. I’ve accepted the reality that I’ll never be a father…)

Reading this list made me realize how awfully short life is to realize ones dreams. We often end up drowned by the tribulations of life and we compromise our dreams for something lesser. When we realize that the road to their accomplishment is fraught with many trials, we surrender. We dream big at the start and then we start to whittle it away until we convince ourselves to make do with what’s available. It is a sad tragedy that keeps being repeated. 

There is but one life that is sure: this life. While we hope for the promise of paradise, it remains as something indeterminate. No one can say that he is worthy of a second life in paradise. That is in God’s hands. He alone judges. So man like me is left with one sure thing: this mortal life.

I’ve often wondered what the purpose of life is. Why do we have 60+ years of existence? To what end will we use it? The first twenty years often moves like a breeze, spent in the carefree world of youth. The next ten years are spent in limbo: the gray area between youth and adulthood. The next ten are used pursuing the dictates of society and it also passes faster than the blink of an eye. Life begins, truly begins they say at 40. When that stage arrives one has at least attained the sensibilities of true adulthood and has experienced enough of life to know wisdom. Before the malaise of old age sets in, one is given the chance to live a life.

The tragedy of life, at least one of them, is the fact that most people realize that they pass their golden years without really realizing they did so. I see their spent haggard forms from all walks of life, from the paupers of the street to the eccentric misers from the ranks of the rich. They don’t present a pretty sight. 

I decided that while it is within my power, I will not become like them.

I may risk being called selfish or a coward but I am determined to live my life as I see fit. I won’t take the road most travel and pin my dying hopes on unborn children which would facilitate the continuing movement of the wheel. No, they don’t deserve that. I won’t commit to marriage in the hopes that it is the panacea that would cure all that is wrong in my life. Marriage is not the means to an end, it is a contract to a means and nothing more.

Do you know why I envy the life of a vagabond artist? They live day to day, moment by moment, unshackled by societal norms. They are often penniless and drift from place to place sleeping in strange commodes and relying solely on the vagaries of fate for their daily existence. They often live short lives yet I envy them.

Why? One reason. They lived.

While the security of eight hour day jobs and the stability of a nuclear family are exemplified as the pinnacle of one’s success, it is not often the case. For most, it is a fa├žade that hides the emptiness within. It is a thinly veiled excuse of mediocrity, teetering in the precipice that divides madness and despair. For many people, it is a lie tolerated only because there are no other alternatives available.

Most people, they never really live. They pass life like creatures of mist, barely making ripples where they pass. They end their lives in resignation whether they end up realizing it or not.

Life is a series of decisions. I have decided now to turn my back on the life I’ve been living up to now. I will turn my back on a sure thing: a job and a lifestyle that would have merited me a middle class existence in my current world. I will risk it all for a possibility, a risk.

That would mean that I would have to let go of certain dreams. I’ll have to sacrifice having my own family; sacrifice the stability of my current job; sacrifice the social circles I’ve established till now; sacrifice my current path: all for the possibility of being true to myself.

I want to live. I don’t want to join the status quo living upon the strict boundaries set by culture and society. While the price maybe great and I may end up regretting it later in my life, it is a decision that I have to make. And I will live with it.

I want to live for myself. If I want a steak that cost a $100, I want to do it with a clear conscience. I want to go to Nepal with only my backpack and a thousand bucks when I am in my forties without facing financial recriminations from someone. I want to live in a jalopy and traverse the continents living on the road. I want to go to Africa and do some volunteer work without the guilt of leaving someone behind. I want to be a wandering artist and see my portion of the world as long as I’m able.

I want to live free and die free.

It is a selfish, selfish dream.

Of course, there are obligations that must be fulfilled yet. I am a son and a brother. Debts have to paid in full to move forward. This is why I must pay them first. That would take the next ten years of my life. I will stick with the status quo for now, in greener pastures and when everything has been paid in full, then just maybe, when life truly begins, I can dream again.

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