For The Daily Prompt: Futures Past
“When I grow up to be a man…” The Beach Boys 1965
When I was a child, and I thought about what I was going to be when I grew up I began to keep a list. The list became very long. It was so long that upon finding it my father said to my mother, “He’s a smart kid, he’s keeping his options open.” I’m not so sure if that was brilliant, career-seeking strategy, or only a childhood delusion that I was infallible and would succeed at anything in life.
I grew up in the sixties and seventies, when most kids wanted to be either a cop, a fireman, an astronaut or a doctor. Back then, you wanted to be what your father was or go into an occupation that was the most glorifying. Most kids thought about being a famous baseball player, the President of the United States, or maybe if they were extremely ambitious – an astronaut.
Yes, an astronaut. That occupation was the highest one on my list.
The closest I came to becoming an astronaut though was when I was about 8-years-old and fell off one of those grocery store, space rocket rides and banged my head on the concrete. After walking around with a bump on my head the size of a golf ball for days, my dream of space travel quickly vanished.
So sadly, after that fiasco, I went down the list to number two.
Number two on my list was to become a cop. I do not know how I made the transition in job careers from astronaut to cop, but it seemed like a logical one at that time.
Cops carry guns! Yes, I could walk around with a gun, shoot bad guys and speed around in a patrol car with the siren blasting.
I quickly changed my mind, however, when one day I was sitting on the beach with my friend and I told him I was going to take the cop test. After passing me the marijuana joint we were sharing, he laughed and said to me, “Why do you want to be a cop, everybody hates cops!”
It was in the 1970’s back then, and you had to be a teenager getting high on the beach while cutting school to understand that reasoning.
“Yeah, you’re right. Screw being a cop!” I immediately agreed with him.
So, down the list I went again.
Number three on my list was to become a gravedigger. I always liked digging around in the dirt when I was a kid, so that’s probably how the idea originated.
I remember when I first went to a relative’s funeral and then to the burial service afterward. When I saw some cemetery workers off to the side digging a grave and drinking beer, I thought to myself, “How cool would that be, dig in the dirt all day, drink some brewskies and get paid for it.”
I quickly changed my mind about grave digging later on when me and some of my other friends got locked in the cemetery one night (that we were getting high in) and hallucinated that we were getting chased by corpses that were rising out of the graves.
Yes, the pot we had back then was excellent or should I say mind-blowing.
As the years went by, my dreams of becoming this and that quickly began to fade, and take on a more practical approach. How I could make money and make it fast became my only concern. My father was a union official in the NYC Carpenters Union, so that’s where I got my first job.
I never thought about becoming a carpenter (it wasn’t on my list) and at the time I would detest any form of physical labor – probably like I still do now. But being a carpenter like my Dad appealed to me, and the union pay scale was great.
So there I was, walking my skinny ass onto my first job site with a tool box that was heavier than I was.
Over the years, I have often thought about all the great opportunities that have passed me by in life, or should I say – was too blind to see. I won’t get into that, because it will only make me cry and remind me of what a dumb-ass I sometimes was growing up.
Nevertheless, I have learned over the years to stop whining about the mistakes I have made in career choices, and be thankful that I was able to support a family, buy a house, and can retire anytime I want with a decent pension.
And now write about all of that.
The funny thing is, when I was growing up I never dreamed about being a writer. It came out for a little while when I was in my forties when I started to write and then got three books published.
Writing was a dream and a gift that came out later in life. I guess what it means is that dreams never stop creating themselves and that we should never be afraid of having new ones – no matter how old we are in life.
No matter what your dreams were when you were young, it is never too late to accomplish them now or to have new ones.
Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer, a book author and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Research Engine.
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