Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Have I betrayed my childhood self? (redux)

I first published this post in 2010.  Today I dusted it off, spruced it up a bit, and again present it for your reading pleasure:
I can still remember the questions I pondered as a child (I was a frequent and vivid ponderer):

What will my job be when I grow up?
Who will I marry? (Will she be hot?)
Where will I live?
What will my kids be like?
Will I grow old?  How old?

I also recall some of the promises I made to myself as a child:

I will let my kids stay up as late as they want to.
I will eat dessert whenever I want to.
I will become rich.
I will become famous.
Nobody will ever tell me what to do.

I didn’t keep any of those promises.

Less evolved Mitch (Mitch of only a few years ago) sometimes felt guilty about failing to live up to my childhood expectations. More evolved Mitch understands that I hold no obligation to my childhood self. Screw him. He didn't know what he was talking about. He was just a kid. Granted, he was a darn cute kid, but a kid nonetheless.

We sometimes treat our childhood dreams with undue reverence.  These dreams are necessary from a developmental perspective (in order to become an adult, one must first envision it), but they should not be construed as a blueprint for life. Our juvenile aspirations are misguided because children cannot grasp life’s complexities, and don’t appreciate its subtleties. The degree of wisdom necessary to do so is acquired later in life, if ever.

In retrospect, these are the questions I should have pondered as a child:

Will I be lucky enough to find real love? (I was)
Will I have my health? (I did for the first 38 years)
Will I lead a happy and contented life? (I have)
Will I have a fulfilling career? (not really, but it paid the bills)
Will I be a good person? (with some exceptions, I think I have been)

And these are the promises I should have made to myself when I was a kid:

I will not presume that life owes me anything; any positive experiences beyond being born are simply frosting on the cake.
I will be a lifelong learner, a rational and open-minded thinker, and a candid, yet polite, communicator.
I will not waste precious resources on jealousy, hatred, or revenge.
I will try to do my small part to improve the human condition.
I will not blindly adhere to hollow societal norms.   
I will live each day as if it will be my last.
I will be true to my family and friends.
I will be reliable and humble.
I will have fun, lots of it. 
Even when life becomes difficult, I will try to persevere.

If I had made these promises to myself, could I have kept them? Let’s just say that at 47 years of age, I’m still a work in progress.

If young Mitch could have seen the future, I’m quite certain that he would have been disappointed with what he saw. But young Mitch wasn’t smart enough to appreciate what a good life looks like. How could he have? He was just a kid.


  1. Nice read. It's always nice to take a moment to reflect back on things. Thanks for bring me along.

  2. Perspective changes over time...great story Mitch.