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.