Sunday, May 12, 2013

do everything you really want to do before age 30

this morning it's come over me again, how lucky i've been. not liking being restrained by anything, period, i hope this doesn't happen too often. it makes me feel like i have to share my good luck. i have absolutely no idea how to do that! infuriating, isn't it? not that many things in the world don't need doing. children need books, inspiration, medical care, and hugs. in fact people who liberated the german concentration camps found the surviving little ones wanted hugs more than food. 

trouble is, i'm an extreme individualist, all my good thoughts go to encouraging one person at a time. for some reason i don't have the urge (since being a teenager) to solve all the problems of the world. for one thing, i don't dare decide what they are. secondly, as a poet, photographer, what have you, i'm a dictator, i somehow believe in perfection. if only everybody would do as i do! you see what i mean. every theory applied whole scale leads to tyranny. the leaders who emerge - fascist, Communist, and so on - end up using the system for their own aggrandizement.

okay, being a theoretical person, or theoretically a human-being and not a robot, i do keep evolving ideas to apply across the board. trouble is, nothing is right for every single person on earth. what a conundrum! in every day language that means 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'. maybe it's lucky you broke your leg and couldn't serve in the war (the russian poet, boris pasternak, for example). or maybe you were adopted out to caring parents you resented, only to find out your birth-mother a schizophrenic and your bothers jailbirds (happened to a friend of mine). where do we draw the line?

we can't, alas, that's the ultimate answer. that said, the main advice i give to the advantaged youth i know rests in the title above. you may never have another chance. life ultimately throws you into the tar-pit of responsibilities, and the rest is history: raising kids, serving a jail-sentence, struggling to regain the sense of yourself you had when young. this list is endless, all-too-human, and, i hope, obvious. 

so, do everything you really want to do before age 30. you will never again be able to be so careless! and saving that trip to nepal for retirement, you'll very likely make it in a wheelchair. my dictum makes you 1. figure out what you want after all that necessary and detouring education. time to go for broke. and 2. really feeling your basic desire, you'll be motivated, come hell or high water. 

granted, this mostly for kids who've had it all. what if you grew up on the street, having to make your way as best you could? i would maintain this doesn't kill our dream - until we feel too old to make a change. anybody can make the leap, provided they have one thing: a mentor. it's weird to think my whole life decided by a couple of teacher comments. one happened in high school when the peroxided blond, gay english teacher said after i wrote  a piece on bowling for the school newspaper. 'my god, this kid has imagination!' it had never occurred to me imagination a good thing. here's something worthwhile i had by accident. 

the other not so much a single comment, as a teacher's attitude. miss clark, the algebra teacher, let me stare out the window as much as i wanted. somehow she knew i was destined to make my living this way, and she didn't put it down. i do think she told my parents i was an okay kid. i've had many teachers since then and i wish at least you discover one of them who says, as i would, i've know six kids who died before 25. they never lived to 30. if that happens to you, you want to know you've been fulfilling your deepest desires when the ax falls.