While You're Young
I’m grateful to have lived thus far what many might characterize as an uncouth life. This different life is marked by two components.
First, the life of an independent singer/songwriter; I define my career, my routing, my time, and my structure in the context of one of my passions. It suits me well, but I sacrifice the stability and safety of a traditional place in the working world.
Secondly, the (atypical) rhythm and (wayward) path of a traveler. I’ve lived in Italy, Peru, and Costa Rica, volunteering in the latter two counties, bopped around other nations, met all sorts of wonderful people speckled about the globe, and experienced a life at times untethered to any one particular location.
To both of these facets, I’ve heard people give the advice/exhortation of, “Do it while you’re young!”
I’m already in my 30s, and I wonder when they’re going to stop saying that. Maybe it has something to do with my boyish looks (it wasn’t very long ago I was carded at a movie theater!)?
I don’t understand the youth factor as a necessity to do the things your heart desires. 20, 40, 60, 80...as long as I receive joy out of making and sharing music, and as long as my feet itch and have the health to tread upon new land, I aim to be a singer/songwriter who sees the world.
Now, I get it. People often say this platitude with the idea that someday I’ll have kids, a mortgage, be tied down, etc. But, if that is the road that I take, that new road becomes the “it”! Therefore, the “do it while you’re young” doesn’t quite make sense. In other words, the “it” is the yearning of my heart which I choose to embrace, be it for a season or for a life shift. I don’t need to confine my journey of fulfillment to solely a stage of my life. Wherever I go, be it to the far stretches of the planet or the deep rootings of a family, that is where my heart longs and jumps for joy to be.
On the other end of the horseshoe is kicking internal alignment down the road until the proverbial “someday”. Instead of pursuing passions or seeking adventure in the present, they are saved for a day when you finally have the time, peace, or resources. Maybe that’s retirement. Maybe that’s when certain benchmarks are crossed off your checklist. Hopefully, the dreams that you’ve put off don’t become out of reach by the time you’re ready.
I don’t want to come off as pie-in-the-sky. I understand life has responsibilities & challenges and we’re all dealt different hands with different opportunities. But, we can all spend the time to identify what truly stirs our soul, what formulates as our bliss, and landscape our path in that direction.
Those responsibilities and challenges then become the stepping stones along the path you’ve defined, on the way to what some “do while they’re young” and what others hope to achieve “someday”. In other words, your decisions are marked by running towards something, rather than evading something.
Sure, it’s a bit idealistic, but I hope I live a full life, whatever that looks like, every year I’m alive.
So, “do it while you’re young,” if you’re young, but if you’re not, do it while your heart yearns for it, always.
More great articles by Matt Bednarsky here