As my contemporaries and I rush at breakneck speed into that unwanted milestone called THIRTY, our foreheads are sweaty and we are in panic. There are too many milestones we’ve not met and left behind, and the only milestone that seems to be coming true is the one we dread.
The current generation of the 20s (especially late-20s) is already in a crisis, what we call a quarter-life crisis. Unlike the previous generation, that had life sorted out by the age of 30 (in terms of education, job, family, marriage), ours is a generation that continues to push the envelope and yet fights shy of biting the bullet. Carrying university degrees in subjects they don’t necessarily wish to pursue for the rest of their lives and entrenched in 9-to-5 desk jobs, these late-20-ites are daring to dream and yet not daring to step out. Some of us want to be television show hosts, some writers, some travelers, some social workers, some musicians, some dancers, some want to make lots of money (not possible through current means of employment), some want the ideal relationship leading to the perfect marriage; the list goes on. In short, we are dreaming of a life that makes a difference; a life that leaves an indelible mark of a journey well-traveled, with no compromises made, with no traps of mediocrity, with no cages of everyday routines.
Some might seem to have set out their path ahead in clear defined lines; but, I guarantee, they, too, know that they will need to smear these lines if they are to find (what they think would be) complete fulfillment at this end of this journey.
When a child is born, an umbilical cord is physically cut to give it an independent entity in this world. However, there is an invisible cord that still remains and can never be cut – the cord that binds us to our dreams.
Our generation is a youthful one. We are having fun and frolicking like we were college kids at an age when our parents were bringing up kids. Dreams are not alien to human beings, but we have dared to speak them out, to put them down in verbal affirmations. Most of us have managed to keep the possibility of fulfilling them open. We are in the hope that this optimism is going to give us the strength to get to where we are headed out, where the invisible umbilical cord leads to.
But we cannot help question ourselves on how far can we push this utopia? How soon do we don the mantle of pre-patterned lives or how long would it take for us to see the invisible umbilical cord? When is it exactly that we should cut this cord out and tell ourselves that dreams are just dreams, and have nothing to do with reality? Or is it only those who dare to dream that open the doors of realizing them, those who don’t have cut their invisible cords alongwith the visible one?
The reply is not very far away. Within the next few years, we will see how many of us are setting out on the path of fulfillment and how many others are caving in to the real world and reconciling to the philosophy of dreams being elusive entities that are meant only to be run after.
But till then, I would like to present two pieces of inspiration.
One is from the film Revolutionary Road, in which the protagonists have a deep-seated belief that they are meant for big things in life, that their counterparts, colleagues and neighbors are fools. But, as they say in the film, one is as much a fool as one’s neighbor, if one does not have the courage to “step out”, to “get one’s hands dirty”, to “take risks”, to “defy the pattern and draw some of one’s own”.
The other is from the biography of the Nobel-prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez by Gerald Martin. It goes:
In early August 1966, García Márquez accompanied Mercedes to the post office to mail the finished manuscript of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ to Buenos Aires. They were like two survivors of a catastrophe. The package contained 490 typed pages. The counter official said “Eighty-two pesos”. García Márquez watched as Mercedes searched in her purse for the money. They only had fifty and could only send about half the book: García Márquez made the man behind the counter take off sheets like slices of bacon until the fifty pesos were enough. They went home, pawned the heater, hairdryer and liquidizer, went back to the post office and sent the second tranche. As they came out of the post office, Mercedes stopped and turned to her husband: “Hey Gabo, all we need now is the book to be no good.”
To all my friends who have kept the umbilical dreams still alive, be reminded that generation after generation of men and women have dared to dream and make them true, have had the courage to push themselves to the limit and yet be true to what they believe in, to how they see their lives. Even though most of them are celebrity names to us and we don’t personally know a lot of people with such resumés, we have to remember that it was never easy. It was as difficult for them then, as it is for us today. And only the ones who dare to live will find their lives.
My umbilical dreams are out there waiting for me to seize them, and what I do in the next few years will either cut the cord, or make me finally see it!