“You’re living my dream right now haha. If I didn’t have to work or pay bills, I would probably be traveling all over! So envious!”
“There’s no way I can take a trip like that now…but someday I will!”
“I’m just so busy with work and school right now, but maybe next weekend we can do some climbing.”
“…so I hate to bail, but I don’t think I’ll realistically be able to fit the climbing trip into my schedule…I was really excited about it, but I just don’t think I can fit it in this summer.”
If you’re reading this and you recognize some of the above words as your own, the rest of this article is going to piss you off. I really don’t care; I just hope it makes you think. Those words are direct quotes from conversations I have had with four different friends in the last three months, and taken at face value, they seem to almost reek with logic and responsibility. To be sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those concepts; in hindsight, a little more logic and responsibility at certain times in my life would have saved me a substantial amount of heartache and wasted time and money.
What irks me is the pervasive, societally-perpetuated concept of “someday.” The quotes above are all slight variations on that theme, and the instructions to live a “someday life” read like a damn route summary off Google Maps:
- Take the expressway straight from high school to college.
- Continue straight to post-graduate studies.
- Slight left onto Career Expressway.
- Continue straight on Career Expressway…forever. Never ever detour, look right or left, take an exit, or stop to stretch and smell the proverbial roses (if you do, the Jones’s might pass you).
- And finally, after many long years of acquiescence, compromise, and ass-kissing, arrive at…
Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Johnson. You died of brain cancer at age twenty-eight. Or at age forty in a car accident. Either way, you didn’t make it to the Great American Goal of Retirement. Aren’t you glad you delayed on that month in Europe that you have been planning and looking forward to since you were an awkward, pimply-faced ninth grade dreamer? You knew every detail of how you would spend every day of that first week in Paris. You dreamed about the taste of your lover’s kiss under a moonlit sky in northern Ireland, and you felt a shiver of terror and excitement up your spine every time you thought about being trapped in a storm on the Croz Spur of the Grandes Jorasses.
“Wait a second!” you object. “I planned carefully with my finances, delayed gratification, inherited good genetics, ate well and exercised, and lived a risk-free, bubble-wrapped life. Now I’m sixty-five and I’m going to enjoy retirement, and do all those things I put off doing until ‘someday!’ Someday is finally here!”
Nope, sorry again. Social Security is bankrupt, your indomitable spirit is now housed in a body no longer equal to the challenges of the physical adventures you planned as a young adult, and your carefully planned investments just got wiped out by another national financial crisis. In short, you’re fucked and full of regret.
When are people going to wake up and realize that, with extremely rare exception, someday never comes. The short answer is that they’re not.The Kool-Aid is mixed in with breast milk and formula these days, so your typical high school graduate has been consuming that shit for eighteen years. They’re brainwashed into thinking that two weeks of paid vacation a year is a great deal, and that five days at a water park two hours from home with three kids and a tight budget will be just as exciting and life-changing as traveling the world as a reckless, free twenty-five year old. It’s not impossible to wake them up from the coma, but it’s not as simple as pumping their stomachs with impassioned pleas to live a little and tales of how your own adventures have changed and shaped your life. It’s more like a cocktail of organ replacement surgery (starting with the brain) and long-term dialysis.
The few with the courage to refuse the cup when it’s passed around – or who quietly gag themselves and vomit out the poison in the bathroom at night when mom and dad are sleeping – are looked at as irresponsible and labeled “no-future kids.” Fine – give me the label. Tattoo it on my chest and back and ass and let me wave a flag with the words printed in bold, black letters. Someone please explain to me why I should spend the prime years of my existence planning on an anticipated event that I probably won’t live to see. And people think I’m the crazy one…