What is the hardest thing you will ever do? Is it have kids? Is it buy a house and actually pay it off? Is it saying goodbye to a loved one? Is it dealing with your own health issues? Who knows.
When you are young it feels like school is the hardest thing you will ever do. Then when you leave school and you realize how easy it actually was, you start to miss those days. I know I do. Maybe I don’t miss the kids, bullshit, teachers, learning about stuff I didn’t care about or the uniforms but I do miss the simplicity of it all.
I think there is an infinite number of near impossible things that every single person will have to do in their life, and every time you barely manage to get through the thing that seems the hardest, there’s always something crazier waiting just around the corner.
Life is serious, there is no escaping that. Some people never fully acknowledge this fact. They think that maturity is getting a job, settling down, having kids and buying a lawnmower and maybe they are right. But what are they giving up in the process? What wild dream have they decided is just too wild to even try chasing? I think everyone has this moment in their life, a time where who you want to be gets overshadowed and drowned out by the person you simply can be.
You wanted to be a poet, but there’s no money in that. Your very being is lighter when you write poetry but deep down you know that no matter how amazing your work is, it will more than likely never pay the bills. You enter your 20’s and everyone around you starts to follow this preplanned blueprint to a lemming life, giving up their dreams in the process. You are sick of being the only one without a proper “career”. You’re sick of dreading the “what are you doing with your life?” question that happens at every gathering. You’re sick of trying to explain why you love the things you do. You take that job at the bank to get by, to fit in.
You promise yourself that you will still write poetry, after all it is the only thing that makes you happy. You start to make friends who are doing the same thing, they talk about the future, you’d never thought about the future. You are drawn in to the acceptance, it’s comfortable and comfortable is the closest thing to happy you can get lately. You look at your account and you have a lot of money. There’s a part of you that wants to blow it all on Lego because Lego is awesome, but you hesitate. The thought of that number dropping even slightly makes you wince. Unless it’s a necessity like food, petrol or bills, you shouldn’t spend that money, you know the number shouldn’t change unless it’s going up. Months float by in a blur, the number gets higher and higher. You haven’t written anything besides forms and statements, there’s an emptiness inside you. You fill it with alcohol and football. No one questions your love of those two things, you
sink fit in even more now. You have a plan for the future involving kids, travel and something involving this thing called equity that you don’t fully understand but people treat you with respect when you talk about it. It feels familiar to talk about equity.
Life goes on. A few years later, you’re not sad. You’re not happy. You’re just there. Your kid shows you a poem they wrote in class. They spelled some words wrong. “I used to do poetry, when I was younger…” the words bounce around in your head, something feels off. You have no regrets as you look down at that child. Years go by and you pin every single poem your child writes to the fridge. You’re proud. Your child starts working, graduates from school and it’s been a long time since a new poem went up on the fridge. “Why did you stop writing?” you ask, “I got the job at the bank, I start when school’s over, thanks for helping me get it.” they reply. You wonder if you did the right thing, you go into a deep conversation with yourself, questioning more than you’d like to admit. You realize you’re late for work so you snap out of it.
More years go by. You are watching your kids set up a family dinner with your grand kids. Things are good. You’re grey and full of memories, you pick up the pen and start writing a poem again. Knowing the end is near, you start to daydream. You have no regrets but you can’t help it, your mind wanders and the question wedges itself smack dab in the door and pries in. “what if I had been a poet?”
Now that was a pretty long winded and melodramatic example, but I think that is the hardest thing you will ever do. The worst part is you won’t even know until the last leg of the race that you did it. There is a terrible and beautiful symmetry to life. You only get one, there’s no do-overs, at least that we get to consciously be aware of. You have one shot and somehow you have to try and make sure you won’t screw the pooch.
That’s a lot of pressure.
I want to be a lot of things. I want to be a smart business man, do the hard yards, earn the money, provide for the family. But I also want to be the poet, I want to write, more than anything, but there’s not a lot of money to be made. It’s a textbook pickle. Almost everyone I know is doing the lemming thing and I respect that. They have money to travel and buy nice things. I kind of want that, but I don’t want to compromise what I love to get it.
Is it possible to eat the soul sandwich while eating the shit sandwich? Is it possible to eat the soul sandwich and not regret it when you’re 40 and living in your parent’s basement? Is it possible to eat the shit sandwich and not hate yourself?
I don’t know. I guess I’ll never know, but damn does it feel good to write about it “out loud”. This was undoubtedly a win for the poet.