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Freedom and Happiness and Other Notions of Youth

When you are a kid all you dream of each and every day is the time in your life when you are a “grown up.” You think once you’re older you’ll be able to drive, have a cool house, do what you want and stay up late. I have specific childhood memories, circa age nine, of what my house would be like when I grew up. I was going to live with my best friend in one of the many ranch houses that surrounded our elementary school. On a cul-de-sac, no less! I didn’t really know what my occupation would be, but I was going to own about ten dogs. My best friend wanted to own ten dogs, too, but she also wanted to be a truck driver. She thought we could also drive around town in her big rig which she would name “The Black Widow.” Yes, the times were good in the daydreams of youth.

Looking back now as a “grown up,” I know I have full freedom to own ten dogs if I wanted. I could also buy a ranch style home in the town where I grew up. I also have a full reign to go to truck driving school and find a truck I could drive around town in. And if I felt like it I could name it “The Black Widow.” But I do not choose to do any of these things. Especially the truck driving part. That was kind of the dream of my best friend.

Now being an adult, my ideas of what freedom and happiness truly mean are completely different. I see the world now as broken up into two parts: responsibility and obligation. There is no room to fit the imaginative ideas of freedom and happiness. At least not very much room. And certainly not from the innocent childhood perspective.

It is funny now that as an adult I dream of the time when I was young. That was a time of true freedom and happiness. No responsibilities, debts, obligations, and the knowledge that anything you really worked at could possibly happen someday. Didn’t want to go to class? Skip it! Want to stay out all night drinking and watch the sunrise? Sounds like a plan! Donuts for breakfast? Velveeta cheese for lunch? Beer for dinner? Yes, yes, and yes. And to think that I considered all three of these food categories sound, rational adult choices. Twenty-somethings.

Fast forward a million years. I know that I am not too old to have dreams or plans for the future, but it seems unlikely at my age I could, say, start a new sport and train really hard and end up in the Olympics. Which was always the measure of my youth. How much time I had left to do things….whether it was sports, modeling, learning a hobby, playing an instrument, becoming “famous.” Time was always a factor I considered in my countdown to adulthood. But, as the Rolling Stones continue their world tour well into their early hundreds, I think that maybe the concept of youth is becoming a more extended period of time.

Much like the ideas of “freedom” and “happiness,” “youth” is also relative. You’re as young as you feel, right? Actually that is something only old people say. Anyway, I realize now that in order to regain my youth, freedom and happiness, I will have to start training for the Olympics. I’m hoping that if I’m persistent I can win enough public sympathy that the Olympics Committee will suddenly recognize the importance of creating a special program for middle-aged first time athletes.  If this works out (fingers crossed!), count me in for skeet shooting. I have a feeling I’d be really good at it.

About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

38 responses »

  1. Very accurate observations! And a workable plan? Thanks for sharing!

  2. The dreams don’t stop at reaching adulthood. I dreamt about retirement, no bills, no obligations and all the time in the world to do anything I want.

    Well part of it came true, I have all the time in the world. I’m reasonably healthy so there’s nothing to stop me from seeing the world, except money. Now, two years into retirement, all that remains is time, lots of time. – Bob

    • Lots of time would be a great thing for me….lol. This gives you the schedule for writing, blogging and so forth. Perhaps writing a book about your life experiences? You have many things to share!

      • My blog is being used for exactly that purpose. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful part of the country that get overlooked at times because of our small population. The air & water are so clean I must literally reduce the natural color saturation to make it look more like the rest of the country. It’s a great place to live.

  3. I think the current gold medalist in skeet shooting is in her early 40s… I swear I remember that from watching the last Olympics. So, that dream may be less out of reach than you think!

    I’m not sure where they sell skeets, though. You’re on your own there! Good luck!

  4. Great post, enjoyed reading it… 🙂

    Dreams is great inspiration in every age, sometimes they come throw…. 🙂

    • Yes, dreams are good inspiration. I can’t imagine life without them! Believing in dreams takes faith, which sometimes I don’t have much of. But when they are realized…it is the best feeling in the world!

  5. Hi there – I truly enjoy your blog and have nominated it for an award again! Please see the details (learned from you!) at Take care Tiny

  6. The Black Widow is an awesome name for a vehicle. My volkswagen just got a new name! Thanks

  7. I guess the grass is always greener. I always wanted to grow up, too, so I could do whatever I wanted. Now, I wish someone would just take care of me and feed me. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad. Perspectives do change for sure. I would like to be apart of your Olympic team! When I starting running, that was fun for me, because it was as if we were all on an equal playing field. Anyone can run, provided you’re not injured. Does that have any appeal to you?

    • Yes, it is too bad that the older we get the less we are taken care of. Or so it seems that way. I would love to run, but I’m afraid I’m a little too…uh…top heavy? LOL…Feel free to join my skeet shooting team! Maybe I can set up a virtual club for us gals 😉

  8. How often, as those dreams fell away, something more miraculous appeared. There’s no way I could have imagined the path that emerged. Admittedly, the executive successes I once dreamed of — or even the best-selling author — never materialized. But, from where I sit now, I feel all the richer. (Now, if there were only a bit more money …) Still, it’s one step and one day at a time, and that’s where the focus is most rewarding.

    • Wow! Your first sentence almost has me in tears. It is very profound! Yes, much of what we seek in life doesn’t happen as planned. Life is what we make of each day. Thank you for stopping by!

  9. Every time I watch the Olympics I am inspired to begin my training program so that I can go to the next one. It has been that way since I was a kid. I don’t think my odds of following through were actually any better then, but I still enjoy imagining it. Maybe someday I’ll attend as a spectator? Nah, probably not, but a girl can dream.

  10. I am still young enough to be a bit of a dream-chaser, but old enough to be afraid to do the chasing. Sigh. Life is complicated. Wonderful post. We better see you in the Olympics!

  11. This post reminds me of a song called “Wasted on the Young” by a band called The Delilahs. They were a small Minneapolis band back in the 90s, but they were amazing. I don’t have the lyrics, but I just uploaded the song to SoundCloud, so you can listen to it here:

  12. SIgn me up for figure skating with a wheeled walker- LOL. 😀 I missed the memo about having to feel older- or act older :). Breakfast today was sliced deli ham, crackers, and part of a Coke (stomach was a bit queasy).

  13. I use to imagine I’d have a house that backed up to the ocean and in my backyard ocean (which was underwater fenced in) would be my own pet seal. Now I just go to SeaWorld and star at the seals and seal lions – sometimes it sucks to be a grown-up.

  14. Pingback: The Delilahs : Wasted On The Young | What is playing in my iTunes

  15. This is too funny – exactly what I’m going through with my fiver year old. Kindergarten seems to have changed his pallet for the worse. As a preschooler he’d eat anything we put infront of him. Now his vegetables consist of French Fries and ketchup. I need to try the V8 trick!

    • Yup, it never seems to get easier. Hopefully they’ll learn down the road that you can’t survive on peanut butter and jelly for the rest of your life! Oh, and French Fries and Ketchup is our main food group!

  16. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

  17. I agree: “that maybe the concept of youth is becoming a more extended period of time.”
    You could try figure skating – I started 8 years ago at the age of 43…it really is a sport for a lifetime, and you can compete into your 70s 😀
    So happy to have come across your blog, and I’m looking forward to many happy returns!


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