A hike at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Turtle bush camp on Clear Lake (don’t try and find it, there are thousands of Clear Lakes in the North Country).
We were leaving Wal*Mart, paying for our overnight accommodations with purchased staples. I saw her coming, tall blond, attractive, at most 35. She looked ahead blankly. Then I saw the cane, the limp. Jeans covered the damage. It’s not winter, I thought; not a ski injury, soon to heal and have her showing those long legs again by summer. It is summer.
I read her sweatshirt. My vision blurred; something slammed me in the chest, hard.
“Army,” it said.
Sea caves, Bayfield, Lake Superior, Wisconsin
They are just starting, and when she is making a salary, should be able to save a reasonable portion of their income, IF they have the desire and the discipline to follow through. It is very easy to have dreams, and not so easy to apply the follow-through required to see those dreams come to fruition. Most people think of their dreams as just that, dreams, that they never expect to realize. That way of thinking is self-fulfilling, and most people are satisfied with such a life: fine for most, but not all. I wonder how these two will do? They have everything going for them right now, intelligence, health, bright financial future; how they apply these gifts will determine how they define their dreams, and if, and how they realize them.
Then there are the Life decisions. One big question they will no doubt face is having children. When most people become loving parents, they switch their dreams from themselves to their children. That is natural, and desirable for the mentoring of the next generation. Some couples, like us, realize that they are not cut out for such a difficult important task. Claire and I both knew we were neither inclined, nor suited for parenting. Fortunately, we shared that with each other early. Others, better suited have taken up our allotted 2.2 children, and we hope they are doing a wonderful job with them.
Often these decisions, like having children, going into debt, moving to the suburbs… are made by young couples under the influence of older people they consider wiser. “Of course you want to have children!” says Aunt Annie. “Your mother would die if she doesn’t have grandchildren to spoil!” Mother, of course, is perhaps more subtle, but the natural selfish desire for grandchildren is probably evident. Of course you should give your parents grandchildren. You owe them, don’t you? I hasten to say that we have met couples who have managed to do the impossible (to us) and lead very adventurous lives with young children. What lucky children!
There are other pressures on young professionals: After that big promotion, a boss might hint that, now that you are making the “big bucks”, you should join his country club, and perhaps make that down payment on a house more suitable for entertaining clients… You own him, don’t you? Often the subtle pressures of those with power and influence, cause young couples to make decisions they might not have made if they’d trusted their intellect, their instincts. Sometimes they just don’t make decisions, but let the outer world make them for them. Not making your own decisions, IS a decision.
These Life decisions are just that, decisions for Life. Often those who would influence young couples want to override their decisions, for fear they will make decisions that will set them apart as “different.” This too is understandable, from the viewpoint of those who would influence. After more than a decade of an unconventional life, the reactions we get from most people to our, “different-ness” is amazingly positive: “Do it now, while you can.” “You guys are doing what I wish I had done.” We hear these encouragements often from those more mature than we, those who made decisions that negated the possibility of travel, of adventure, of allowing themselves to live the full creative life they might have otherwise. To give full credit to our families, although they were a tad shocked at our sudden to them, crazy ideas, they did not discourage us. Thank you.
Many people live the dreams they abandoned, through us. We are glad we are living them through us too. To Laura and Michael: go for it, being different is not so bad in the long run. Ultimately they will respect you for it.