December 16, 2013

That second chance

A few days ago I went out with the girls. Let's clarify - I don't have "girls", but I do have Steph. And Steph has "girls", and she was kind enough to feel sorry for little old me and rescue me from sitting alone in the corner by inviting me to come hang with her and the girls. Of course I went. How else will I ever get the chance to write "I went out with the girls"? If I wait until I had "girls" it would be a very long wait, somewhere around quarter to never or so. Anyway Steph and the girls took me out to see a show called The Night Before Christmas in the Soho Theatre. I have never been to a show in Soho before so I wasn't really sure what to expect, and the theatre kind of reminded me of going to a play at school, but regardless and with no connection to the gigantic glass of wine I was given (wine at 2:30 pm. The day was just full of firsts), I really liked the show. Steph warned me about there being lots of curses, so I am not sure what it says about me if I thought it was really a perfectly normal amount of swearing (that being said, there were parts when they were talking really fast and I was a bit lost so some of the more explicit curses went over my head). The thing that stuck with me from that show (well except from the fact that I had two glasses of wine. And that I went out all by myself. Both of which are unheard of) was a few lines there right before the end, about how when we grow old we lose our dreams. We give up on them, and are just content to live our lives as they are. Not thinking about the future, about the possibilities in everything, but thinking instead about the past and its missed opportunities. I found it just so damn sad. Do we really? Then I got a comment on the post I wrote about living in London, and that comment said exactly the same -  "I think it's admirable that you followed your dream to live in London, despite your hard times. Very few people get to fulfil their dreams like that".

So I asked Hidai (because he has to hear every thought I have) if he thinks it's right. At what point exactly do we lose our dreams? The ability to believe we could do anything? He said sooner than you'd think, that most never had it to begin with, that most people, us included, aren't raised to believe it. I don't know if he's right, but I really hope not. And yet I see it everywhere I look - I hear it from women when they become mothers, from women who followed their husband to a life of expats, from older people when their kids are grown. And yet I don't want to believe it.
Last night we watched the xFactor final. I love the xFactor, when I'm asked I say it's because it's my sign that Christmas is nearly here, but if I'm honest it's not only that. I love seeing the journey and I love it when people get a second chance to fulfil their dreams. I rooted for Sam Bailey and Rough Copy from day one, and was extremely sad to see the boys voted off in the semi-final (have to say I voted for them) and very happy for Sam that she won (of course we voted for her). But then they made the whole thing exactly about that - that second chance, that dream she gave up on, those twenty lost years.
Ron wants to play football for Arsenal when he grows up. He really believes he could. Actually he really believes he would. And putting aside the question of university and weather a football career is what we want for him, we told him to go for it.
At what point in life does "go for it" vanishes? At what point are we left with the "what ifs"? And on the other hand, he probably won't play for Arsenal. Am I right to let him believe he could? Is raising your kids to believe they can be anything, do anything the right thing? Am I harming his sense of reality in letting him believe he has a chance? I read a few people who said their parents told them that, that they are the best, that they could do anything, and then when they grew up and realised no one is standing outside with the keys to a whole new future they didn't know what to do.
And still I tell Ron if he is willing to commit the time and effort and work hard he could. Is that the difference? The knowledge that everything comes with a price-tag? I have no idea but I don't think so. I think its the price itself.
In a different lifetime I was studying to be an accountant. I was working alongside a man, whose name I can't remember, but who was I think in his fifties (I was very young, and everyone looked really old to me). His life long dream was to study history. Instead he was working in an accountant office. He wasn't a sad man, or a grumpy one. It was just that I found it sad. The "I can't go back and do it now" line. Life is so short and it goes by so quickly, so I decided on one rule in life (ok, I have tons of rules, but that one made the top five) - No Regrets. Running away from the what ifs comes with a steep price-tag believe me, it also comes with lots of hard work, and not a lot of money. Mostly I think (for me anyway) it comes with lack of worth, with those moments were my life seems wasted, where it seems like a bad example of a person who just can't make up her mind. It comes with never having a "real" job, a "proper" career, or a knowledge of what's to come. It comes with all those moments of self-doubt.
Hidai said it happens to everyone, that thought "maybe that's it. I've hit my glass ceiling. That is the end of the road for me, it's as far as I can go". Lord knows it happens to me every time he is looking for a new job, it happens to me every time I feel a hiccup with the blog, it happens to me every time we have a future budget talk. Do you though? Do you really have a glass ceiling? If Ron wants it enough won't he be able to play for Arsenal?
When I'm confronted with our lifestyle I always have two nagging and contradicting thoughts -  Will we one day wake up and realise we have unfulfilled dreams? Will running ever be too much?And on the other side of it, how many new dreams could one person have? What if one day I will wake up and realise I have no more dreams to fulfil? No more mountains to conquer?
I don't know which one of those options is worse.
Steph's photo (and idea)

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