Tuesday: The Little Mermaid/Why Emulating Childhood Ideals is Unfulfilling

– Topher Endress

On Tuesday, we made our way out to a beach. It was in a State Park and not very crowded, so it was great. In addition to the sweet letters Doppler and I made out of rocks…

Just kidding, this is a natural formation. We had nothing to do with making it.

… there was a large outcropping of rocks just off shore that was close enough to swim to, maybe 300 yards out (they look much closer in the picture since there is nothing on them for reference).

There were several people on one of these formations, but just a couple on the one we headed out to.  They weren’t the easiest to climb, being wet and slick, but only one person got injured (cough*Doppler*cough).  The girls immediately laid out to get their tan on, but the guys gave in to their natural instinct and explored a bit.  I found a rock that was sticking out a bit from the others and got the brunt of the incoming waves.  You know that picture from The Little Mermaid?  Where Ariel is pushing off the rock and a wave is exploding behind her?  This one:

You know you want to look this cool.

That was basically this rock.  So naturally, I say to myself, “Self, this is one of the few chances in life to emulate a Disney movie without disgracing everyone who knows you (see here and here). Surely, you will always remember how awesome it is to look like that, even if you don’t have a purple shell bra!”

I’m sure you have already guess this based on the title of this post, but it was completely lame.  Sure, the payoff of the experience vs. the cost of walking over a few rocks is worth it, but only because it cost me about 20 total calories of energy to make it happen.  The water did explode from behind me like in that picture.  I enjoyed it.  But as it all went down, I realized how lame it was compared to several other things I had done that day alone.

I’m not saying that the dreams we had a little kids aren’t worthy of chasing.  I’m also not saying that the Little Mermaid is a movie that had a profound effect on me – but that picture is still baller.  But think about some of the things you wanted as a kid.  Did you want to eat McNuggets for every meal?  Stay up super late? Be a robot that uses karate to fight aliens? Maybe you wanted to be the hero of a different movie – the Terminator, a Rescue Ranger, a Green Monkey or Ash from Pokemon.  Looking back now, some of those childhood fantasies and ideals are still ok, but by in large they are incomplete compared to what I now know about the world.  Sure, it would be cool to be a Space Cowboy Millionaire Ninja in the Intergalactic Police Force, but the things I wanted as a kid were one-dimensional and would be highly unsatisfying by my own standards.

Little kids don’t realize how complex and detailed life in the real world gets.  “Fighting crime” isn’t a plan for future happiness.  Maybe that is what you will do – join the Armed Forces or the Police – but even if you get to satisfy a childhood dream, it will not be fulfilling.  Life takes a more holistic plan.  Being a pilot means nothing for the other aspects of life that don’t involve helicopters.  How do you relate to other people?  Are you making a substantial impact on those around you, both at work and at home?  Being satisfied with life means something much bigger now than it did when I was 5.  And getting to do things like helping an elderly woman renovate her house is so much more satisfying than emulating some one dimensional ideal from my youth.

Are you chasing childhood dreams?  Are you wasting time trying to satisfy immature ideals?  I challenge all of you to chase something bigger than the Power Rangers.

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  1. December 12th, 2012

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