Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being raised toward the beginning of the millennial generation is that you have two perspectives of the world that are constantly warring with one another. The first is the idea that we live in a world that has realistic limits and you have to learn to live within them. The second is that most of us spent out entire childhoods being told that we could be anything we wanted and have anything we wanted, and moreover we were entitled to having it all. These opposing messages obviously don’t mesh very well, and can cause quite a bit of mind numbing contradictions if you try to listen to both sides.
I went through quite a lot in what I consider the first part of my life. I joined the military, travelled the country, got married and had kids. Then I left the military, got divorced and found myself in an extended absence of a real career that just doesn’t seem to want to end. I’m happily married again, and I’ve been blessed to have a part of my family back, but I continue to stare this blank wall of the future right in the face with no answers as to how to break through it.
The problem is that I have this continued nagging of the millennial message echoing in the back of my head which tells me that I shouldn’t have to settle for a bunch of crap I don’t want. I don’t want a meaningless job that just pays the bills so I can sit around in a meaningless apartment I don’t own and participate in meaningless activities I don’t care about because it’s the kind of meaningless life that most meaningless people choose to live because all we really care about is meaningless. I want to do something with my life that excites me to the point that I am an inspiration to others, especially my kids. The question is: what in the world could that even be?
You see, the hopeful message of my youth is also tempered by the fact that I got a healthy dose of the “older generation” realistic attitude point of view…the one that says you can be anything you’re good at, not anything you want. It is a vision of the world that accepts the grind of life as inevitable, and only a lucky few get to live out the kinds of lives that most of us can only dream about. Even dreams that shouldn’t really take a lot of money feel out of reach when you look at the world from this perspective.
For most of my life now, I’ve had the dream of cruising around the world on a sailboat. There’s just something about being out on the water that, while not nearly as powerful as flying, provides a sense of freedom from time and responsibility and all the other things about life that weighs you down. Setting your sails and feeling the power of the wind move you forward is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had, which is interesting since it’s far more simple than many of my other interests. Few things connect you to the world more than harnessing the power of nature.
Unfortunately, like everything in my life, my hobbies and interests are always at the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to money, not because I care about impressing people with my “fat stacks of cash” but because the things I’m interested in just always happen to be the most expensive options. It’s sort of difficult to realize any of your dreams when you always choose the ones that have the highest barrier to entry and you’re just not willing to work your butt off to get to any of them. I’ve always said it’s not worth getting if you never have any time to enjoy it, and unless you win the lottery or something, expensive toys require tons of work.
So like so many others out there, I find myself constantly searching for a unicorn, hopelessly sifting through bank after bank of sand in a vain quest to find that one place that will finally strike gold. It’s an endless cycle of desire fighting with apathy, a futile struggle that always ends with neither side winning and that completely empty feeling of zero progression…the carrot on the stick that continues to entice you even though you know it will always be just out of reach unless you can somehow find a way to break past your limitations as a donkey and break the string.
Unfortunately, most of us are really just mules….