At the end of Blow, Johnny Depp’s character does this monologue from jail assessing the manner in which he has lived.
And drops this bomb:
Life passes most people by while they’re making grand plans for it.
A mate of mine with a ropey beard alerted me the other day to some cat called Jedidiah Jenkins, who on turning 30 had decided to embark on a 7,000 mile bike trip for reasons he felt central to his existence. Describing it as ‘a choice to look squarely at the decisions we all feel like we have to make, and the priorities we all forget’.
When you’ve read a fair few accounts of voyages of self-discovery and the various motivations behind them, it’s rare that you come across something written in a way you’ve never seen before.
The spice of life coughs up many different people in this world, with a range of different priorities, some of whom are never going to embark on this kind of mammoth physical hardship. That’s not the way the world works comes the chorus from the office blocks. Fair enough. But I dare even the most resolutely realistic of you to not take something from the below.
Some more comfortably than others, but at the end of the day if you’re reading this, odds-on the manner in which you live is a choice you are able to make.
There was something about drawing close to 30 that felt like I was losing something. The newness of life and career and cities and friends began to find their comfortable patterns, and once you see the pattern, time speeds up.
That’s why we hear old people always warning us of how fast life passes. It really doesn’t pass by any faster than those long childhood summers, but we just lose fascination, or I should say we lose wonder.
We are no longer astonished by the way the world works.
Human beings amass comfort and minimize risk as they age. I get it. I can see the value in that. But both of those things have a tendency to diminish character.
I am 30 now, and I don’t want a mortgage. I don’t want property-based responsibility because I think it’ll change my brain chemistry.
It makes you focus on protecting what you have rather than fighting for what could be.
It seems like the observable transition from idealism to conservatism. As for now, I do not want that.
I want to pursue wonder, appreciation, and adventure. I want to meet people and learn from them and write their stories and tell others. I want to become a man that pursues virtue and character and colour and romance. It feels like the people in our lives who seem to have done that are the ones we love most. If I have a family some day, I want to give them a father full of stories and whimsy and love for being alive. I see too little of that.
You may think I am prolonging adolescence and avoiding responsibility. Well, I can simply say that I am not impressed by grownups or their society. But I will also say that I disagree with you.
The choice to pursue a dream, at the destruction of my comfort, with the loss of safety and certainty, all for the purpose of doing something that inspires others to a fuller life of wonder and creativity and quality, to me that is a burden of responsibility worth carrying.
To me, that is growing up.