Going through the motions
What “The waiting place” is about (chapter intro):
“The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That’s not for you!”
~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Are you an apathetic, lazy person? I didn’t think I was either…until I was.
As a young adult I was as restless as they come. I couldn’t remain in one place very long at all before I got the itch to move on: a living, breathing embodiment of “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
Upon graduating high school, I quickly realized that college wasn’t sticking, so I took a leap to join the Air Force. Even there I was restless and kept requesting moves, from boot camp to California to Europe to Illinois, all in four years. I then managed to sit still long enough to finish college, but the itch quickly found me bouncing off to join the Peace Corps. Two years of wandering around South America still wasn’t enough, for after the Peace Corps my new wife and I jumped out west to El Paso, Texas for yet another adventure.
But then the so-called American Dream of having babies, buying a house, getting a decent career—all that the world says is the way to live—stopped me in my tracks. And what happened next happens to most all of us: the Great Life Suck began. You know, that apathetic life of settling for what everyone else settles for: trudge through a “good” job, follow the local sports teams, attend the popular local events, watch the popular TV shows, and on and on. Going through the motions of what we call “the good life.”
Not only did the Great Life Suck drain my energy for adventure and the pursuit of my real dreams, but it tricked me into thinking that keeping up with the Joneses was a legitimate dream itself. That and duping me into believing that my “good” career was great, thus permitting me to give up my true passions.
I let good get in the way of great. Or perhaps more accurately, I let what the world calls “great” get in the way of my personal greatness. And so for about 20 years my adventurous, courageous, and true self lay dormant. Sure, it reared its beautiful head sporadically. But come on, how adventurous can one be when there are bills to pay and mouths to feed?
I’ve only recently, over the past five years or so, begun reawakening that old adventurous self that I love, the self that I truly am. I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot live society’s version of the American Dream and still pursue my own dreams and passions. I was—we are—foolish to think it can be done!
And maybe that’s Life Tip #1: We cannot pursue the good life and a great life simultaneously. We cannot chase the “American Dream,” as society defines it, and at the same time pursue our personal dreams and passions. The two are mutually exclusive!
“What good is living the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?” ~ Lord Huron band