“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” ~ Auntie Mame
I ran across a friend recently whom I had not seen in over 30 years. He had aged (like all of us do) but apart from that, he had not changed a bit.
He still works at a restaurant as a short order cook (which surprised me — when I knew him, he had plans to go to med school). He still has the same interests. He still smokes. He still parties like crazy on the weekends. He even still watches the same television shows. He told me how much he loves “The Young and the Restless” and asked me if I still watch it. It took me moment to realize what he was talking about. He was referring to a soap opera we watched when we were barely out of our teens.
I don’t find lack of change to be a good thing. If you don’t change, you don’t grow — and I believe that it’s part of being human to grow, to change, to evolve. By growing and continuously learning, we discover and live up to our potential. We grow into who we are meant to be. We learn how to be better people and in so doing, motivate those around us to become better people.
By not growing, we often feel empty inside, sometimes even lost. We have the feeling deep down inside of us that there must be something more to life that what we are experiencing. We become exiles from one another and from our community, wandering to and fro like a homeless zombie.
An acquaintance once said to me:
“I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up — but I know it wasn’t this.”
We need to stop and look down into our untapped creativity and potential and then, bring it forward. But wishing, yearning, dreaming and hoping won’t do it — only concrete action will.
So how can we move from sleepwalking complacency to growth, from exile to inclusion?
- By engaging with people, both old and new.
- By engaging with life, not avoiding it.
- By reading books, both fiction and non-fiction.
- By connecting with nature (the ultimate teacher of change and growth).
- By slowing down and appreciating the moment.
- By taking classes and/or workshops.
- By taking on a new hobby
- By engaging with teachers.
- By remembering your dreams and then taking first steps — even tiny ones — to bring those dreams closer into reality.
- By trying or learning something completely new, even if it scares you. Trying doing something that you’re not good at.
There are many ways to get started but most importantly, you have to get started. I have found that creating a list of all the things you want to be or learn — or dreams you have ignored or put on hold — is a great place to begin. I personally did this several years ago and rediscovered photography, a dream I had put on hold.
Now you may say that not everyone wants to change or grow. That may be true — and that’s fine. But often, it’s not that we have made a conscious choice to stay the way we are, but rather we just forgot to follow our dreams. We became complacent, lazy and simply accepted our circumstances.
If you are exactly the same as you were twenty, ten or even five years ago, ask yourself, “Is this the life that I want? Am I happy with the way things are? Or do I feel a yearning to grow and evolve in a different direction?”