That’s right, you’ll never be the person you wish to be – I’ll bet you money on it. It may sound a little mean at first, but it’s only reality, right?
In Self Reliance, Emerson wrote, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood shed with them.”
We give up, we settle, and we change. When I was young, my ambitions were to become President of the United States or at least procure another formidable political position. As a teenager, my focus went towards the Air Force Academy and flying jets. After changing my mind and by not pursuing a path to the Academy, I decided I’d go into the corporate world and someday become a big CEO.
Have I disassembled my bridge to the moon so I could start building my wood shed? Possibly. Have I given up the dreams of my youth in pursuit of a more realistic living? Maybe. Have I changed since I was a kid? Definitely.
There’s an old saying that things are never as bad or as good as they seem. Remember when I told you about the millionaire who’s still searching for his dream job? Surely, most of us would think if we hit millionaire status, then we’d be getting what we wished.
You’ll never be the person you wish to be because you never really know the truths of becoming that person. You may wish to be a rich person who gives away incredible amounts of money to charity, but what happens when everybody and their uncle starts beating down your door and asking for money? Are you going to fit the image of the person you wished to be?
I’m currently on the “corporate world” path, and I’m doing quite well at it, but I don’t think I’d ever want to become the CEO of a big company because of what it means. My life would become the life of the company and my personal life would struggle. Sure, some people are able to pull it off, but experiencing the stress that comes with my position today just barely clues me in to the kind of stress that would come with a major CEO position in corporate America.
By the time you hit the mark you might have set years ago when you wished to become something, your reality has vastly changed. You’ve learned new things and you might know what you want or don’t want. We change and that’s a good thing.
Emerson’s quote makes it sound like our building of sheds is always a bad thing, but I don’t think it is. Do you realize how much work would come with building a bridge to the moon or building a palace? Come on, the Taj Mahal took tens of thousands of workers twenty two years to build!
In the end, I’m going to contradict myself, because I’m guessing someone with more wisdom than me can prove me wrong. I’m guessing you can become the person you wish to be if you focus on attainable goals and things like contentment and self improvement. However, for those of us who are still in the mindset of Emerson, we’re not ready to fully tear down our bridges to the moon.
I recently read a quote from a lost Martin Luther King, Jr. speech where he quoted a slave… who said, “Lord, we ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.” Maybe we should just be happy to be moving in the right direction.