Monday, August 16, 2010

Marching On

Do you remember when you were a kid?

Do you remember how everything left you with a feeling of wonder; that whatever you did and wherever you went there was an adventure on the horizon?

Do you still have that feeling? If not, what happened to it?

I lost that feeling a while ago. I don't know what happened, but somewhere along the way I "grew up." Instead of planning my next adventure, I started planning my 401k and my retirement.

I've been out of college for 5 years now, meaning I've been out of college longer than I was in college (random depressing fact.) Adventure ended when college ended. I look at my colleagues, friends, and people much older than me and it makes me think: Is this it? Is this all there is to life?

Growing up in America, we're told that as an adult you should own your own house, your own car or two, be married, and have 2.3 children. You attain all this by working hard and the rest would take care of itself and you would be happy and normal. Does anyone buy into this? I think that's a load of crap. It translates more into working harder and longer to attain bigger cars, fancier homes, and a crippling case of keeping up with the Joneses. Unless you're in an awesome marriage (hard to believe when the divorce rate is between 40-50%), your happiness soon stems from your marginal "wins" from outdoing your friends or neighbors through excess consumption or your 10 vacation days a year. Is this really the recipe for happiness in America? Sometimes I feel like other nations, particularly the Scandinavians have it right.

I don't think I'm alone in the fact that I don't own a house, a car, I'm single, and have 0 children (as far as I know,) and materialistic pursuits don't interest me. By society's standards, does that make me unhappy and abnormal? Unhappy, not exactly. Abnormal, maybe. Do I care what society thinks? No. At this time of my life, I have no interest in owning a house, a car, having children, getting the newest thing, or getting married anytime within the next year or two. Maybe I'm going through a quarter life crisis, maybe I'm experiencing an unnaturally prolonged case of ennui, maybe I'm spoiled, maybe I'm immature, maybe its all of the above, I don't know. What I do know is that I miss having that sense of adventure, I miss not knowing what to expect in an unfamiliar environment, and above all I miss feeling like the world is my oyster.

Out of all the cities I've been to in the world no other city has left as large of an impression on me as Sydney, Australia. I have never been to a more beautiful, awe inspiring city. I describe the city as a perfect blend of European, Asian, and American culture mixed with Australian charm. If I had to name cities similar to it, I would say it has the cosmopolitan feel of New York, the natural beauty of SF, and the beaches of San Diego. The moment I stepped foot outside of our cab from the airport I thought to myself "I have to live here." Some people think I'm crazy, some people think I'm stupid, some people think I have massive balls. Whatever. Getting up and leaving everything that I know and love in America will satiate my thirst for adventure and that I can prove to myself the world is my oyster. All I'll have with me are some clothes and my wits and there's no better place in the world for me to do it than in Sydney. Life's too short, take some risks in your pursuit of happiness.

This short story sums up how I feel. If only my amigos would also move to Sydney too...

An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.
Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."
The tourist then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"
The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs."
The tourist then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."
The tourist scoffed, " I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
The tourist replied, "15 to 20 years."
"But what then?" asked the Mexican.
The tourist laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions?...Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

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