Falling dominoes

Falling dominoes post image

It’s just a game when we’re kids. Sure, it takes some patience, strategy even, but I think we can all agree that watching them fall is the best part.

Except when the dominoes are real

This is where the conventional wisdom gets us into some trouble. We learn to follow a path that’s not our own, thinking it’s what’s best because all the signs seem to be pointing in that direction. And we’re not so young we can’t read the signs, nor old enough to disregard them.

So we do what we think is right, instead of what we know makes us happy. We allow widely accepted norms to dictate our individual behaviors. We allow ‘reality’ to become what’s real to us rather than having the temerity to believe that something else might be possible.

One by one the dominoes fall

But it’s not a game anymore. It’s life. When the pillars which once supported us begin to fall, we don’t marvel at the blur of motion and consequence or point in surprise as we take an unexpected turn. And the one thing that could give us cause to celebrate - the opportunity to reimagine and reconstruct in an entirely new way - is too heavily burdened with doubt and responsibility to provide much in the way of rejoicing. Quite the opposite, in fact. A change in direction - a return, if you will, to what we once knew we wanted - seems more difficult than ever.

This is the initially hidden cost of giving up. Of justifying each tiny step away from the person we were put here to be. But initially hidden or not, the bill comes due eventually and the final price is steep.

We put so much effort and energy, individually, collectively, into homogenizing, and like a lover’s spat that develops into a relationship-threatening divide, it’s hard to remember why it started in the first place. No matter the cause, though, the solution begins with the admission of fault (as opposed to the placing of blame), and the recognition that there’s something worth saving.

A life that genuinely reflects our passion and opens us up to that part of ourselves that sees the world as we imagined it when we were young…that’s worth saving. The forces pulling us away are still there, still strong (maybe stronger), and there are still plenty of ways we can rationalize not doing the hard work that’s required (it’s too expensive, I have too many responsibilities, I’m too old, even if I tried, the economy just isn’t right for it…to name a few).

There’s just one difference. The first time around we only suspected it was a lie. Now we know better.

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  • Jen June 7, 2011, 10:27 pm

    Interesting I should read THIS post on THIS day, to then read the post on Art… I won’t bore you with details of why that is, but suffice it to say they have caused me to reflect upon the fact that I lack the temerity to follow through on what I know to not only be possible, but appropriate because I’m so engaged in the behaviors “they” think I should be engaged in that I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to deal with the incessant tug that is trying to push me in a completely different direction to no avail… and to think I stumbled across this website by pure happenstance while surfing the web at 12 in the morning. Sweet.

    • Jeb June 7, 2011, 10:37 pm

      Well, Jen, then perhaps you prove my theory on art. And if so, I hope you’ll believe, as I do, that you stumbled upon HTM at precisely the right moment. It’d be a shame to waste it…besides, I can see some temerity piling up all around you.

      And just one more thing. The details aren’t boring. They’re context. They’re necessary, and they’re beautiful, and as much as they sometimes suck, they’re worthy of our gratitude because they’re the *only* reason we push on. Says me. Maybe you want to share ‘em?

  • Evy Bell August 3, 2011, 11:24 am

    Pleased to meet you, Jeb. You are one of the few people I meet (fortunately) along the way, that stimulate the reaction, “He is one of me.” Not cut from the same cookie cutter, of course. Precisely, similar because the cookie crumbled and what was reconstituted is more highly individualized. Yeay, us! Fellow, thinkers/feelers/sayers. I appreciate the heck out of what you write and share here.
    My long lost brother. Thanks for being there and caring to matter!

    • Jeb August 3, 2011, 12:37 pm

      Hi Evy,
      That’s why we’re here, right? Life - online or offline - is about connecting with the people who push us forward in any of a million ways. Thank god for them/us/me/you, and for the (sometimes painful) reasons to consider the questions in the first place.

      Thanks for your comment Evy…are you anywhere around the web? Blog/FB/other? Cheers..