I’ll be honest – I don’t really agree with Mr. Gump that life is like a box of chocolates. You know what you’re getting – it says so on the chocolate box. Even if it’s one of those fancy random chocolate fillings in random fancy shapes, the box will clearly tell you which shapes are which flavours!
Perhaps the modern world of chocolate has ruined this memorable metaphor (actually it’s a simile).
Or perhaps – and I’m sorry Mr. Gump, your mother was a little delirious.
I personally think life is like a lava lamp – it was alive and kicking twenty years ago but now nobody really has one.
Wait, that’s kind of a depressing metaphor.
What I mean to say is:
Life is like a lava lamp – it’s always changing and you never know what is going to happen next.
I mean, you have a rough idea of what to expect, but it’s actually really difficult to accurately depict the way the blobs will go.
A Lava Lamp? That The Best You Got?
So we all know life is about change and resisting change and coming to terms with change. Why do we care if it’s a box of chocolates or a lava lamp or a puppy turd?
Because lava lamps are beautiful.
To be honest, I actually don’t have a lava lamp. And I don’t really care about them either.
I just find life so full of interesting things.
We grow up believing that we’ll study hard and get that university certificate and get a steady job and buy a car and a house and start a family and grow old and retire happily. You know, live the great American Dream.
Even our minds and our bodies won’t conform to this silly notion!
We always think of change as this pervasive, annoying external force that comes sideways like a tsunami and flushes us out of our comfort zone.
But have you considered that you yourself are constantly changing?
You are not the person you were a day or a week ago.
You are growing and maturing, for sure (I hope). But more than that, you are changing! Changing in ways that you cannot fathom.
Your palate is changing, your attention is changing, your interests are changing.
You’re Using That Word Too Much
We’re taught in school that once puberty is over, once our growth spurt is over, that’s it – we’re locked in with the body we’ve got.
Our height is fixed, our looks are fixed, our teeth are fixed.
We cry out in anguish, we rebel. We cut, we dye, we pierce. The more permanent the better.
We learn, we buy, we work out. To a goal that we may or may not achieve.
Think about the goals that you’ve achieved. Would you be as interested in achieving them if you were certain that you could already do so? If you could easily surpass them?
Would there be any point?
Of course not!
The point of goals is to push yourself to attain something you’ve never done or never thought possible.
And thus you’ve changed.
But now that you’ve changed, you will keep changing, because you’ll move on to the next goal or the next new thing. It may be related to the previous, or it may not.
So What’s Your Point?
Us humans are a spontaneous bunch.
Like the lava lamp, we never know how we will change. We flit from one idea to another; from one interest to the next; one person to another (except for those loyal ones). Have you ever entertained the possibility that one day you could wake up and no longer want any of the things you wanted when you went to bed?
Does that thought scare you?
Well, it shouldn’t!
Perhaps you’re not fickle like me. You’ve never entertained the thought of trying all sorts of random things, like roller blading, or climbing random hills, or busking in front of the Christmas decorations at night when there’s nobody around to see you (if nobody heard you, did you really busk?).
You’ve never wavered from your life goal, the singular target in your brief existence, the prize at the end of the line.
You’ve strived to achieve it all your life, and you will never back down, never let yourself be distracted, never stop to smell the roses.
Because roses smell like poo-poo-oo, apparently.
You’ve Got Some Crazy Outcast Ideas
That all sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?
Never having flights of fancy; never trying new and different things; never experiencing all there is to experience in this brave and magical world.
No doubt you’ve travelled abroad, lusted after some exotic broads, stayed in a nice hotel, took photos of the sunset, took your mind off work. A brief and beautiful sojourn.
And then back to the grind.
Is that all life is? A steady upward grind, with intermittent holidays in a box?
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. No need to get defensive.
All I’m alluding to is that we as humans have the potential to change so much that perhaps even our professions could change several times in our lifetime.
Why do we have to be locked into our singular specialty for the rest of our lives?
If you’re in the infantry, do you stay there for the rest of your life? Never dreaming of moving up onto the horses? Or into the skies?
Fun fact: do you know why they’re called infantry? Because they were actually too small or young to ride horses and join the cavalry.
That’s probably not the best example, since that’s figuratively moving up, similar to climbing the corporate ladder.
What about going from the infantry to being an electrician, and then a kitemaker?
A What Now?
You know, someone that makes kites!
I’m not asking you to go be a kitemaker, or whatever they’re called.
I’m saying our thoughts and our bodies and our souls are constantly shifting and melding and flowing through this stream of life – shouldn’t our dreams and goals change accordingly?
I’ve known many who have had lovely dreams, big dreams when they were young. And they pursued those dreams with great gusto. And some even achieved those dreams at a tender young age.
Then they settle down. Get a comfortable job and a comfortable life and a comfortable wife (or hubby). They forget about or repress any new dreams or yearnings they have that come along, because those are now distractions.
Is it better to have done many cool things in life and experienced it to the max? Or is it better to have striven unceasingly towards a core goal and achieved it, leaving behind the legacy of a life devoted to a single cause?
Or is it better to leave behind a living breathing legacy that will go on to chase their own little dreams and causes? Or is it better to die trying to achieve them all?
I have known someone who wanted to live for a hundred years. I always wondered why.
I feel it’s the depth of life that matters, not the length of it.
The length of one’s life is a gift, like a box of chocolates. But the depth is a choice, a conscious decision to take life by the balls and not be its bitch.
Live deeply, love deeply.
Embrace the change.
Remember: life is like a lava lamp.
Don’t get a lava lamp. Those things are tacky.