The Pirate Ride

The Pirate Ride
Photo credit: Neal Jennings

Last week I read two articles that were trying to say something about life and how we should live it.  One was about the advice life experts (aka senior citizens) have for us young ‘uns. The other was about how my generation is stuck in a morass of confusion about what success means in these modern times.

The first article struck a chord with me in that it captured much of what I try to achieve in life: live in the moment, prioritize your relationships above overtime, travel as often and as far as you can. The second article struck a chord too, but more because it exemplified why it’s so damn hard to follow the advice in the first.

According to the second article, the path past generations have followed to mark and achieve conventional success, “college→good_job→marriage→house→ family→cushy retirement,” is no longer a guarantee. But do we even need a path? Do we need something to constantly judge ourselves against? Maybe letting go of this conventional approach is the best thing that could happen to us.

I think it’s the mentality and expectation of finding a clearly defined “success” that keeps us in a cycle of disappointment and frustration. Even when we reach some of these markers, after the glow wears off, we’re stuck with a feeling of emptiness and confusion. We’ve checked all those boxes, our parents are proud…why are we so unhappy?

I call it the pirate ride because it feels like that carnival ride where a boat swings like a pendulum. We feel a short high at the crest of each swing before our stomachs drop on the way back down.

Perhaps we feel that sense of dissatisfaction after we reach the next step because we’ve ignored the advice culled from the experience of generation after generation. By thinking about the next thing, we miss the beauty of the world around us. We are sacrificing vacation days and travel opportunities for that next promotion. We are so focused on achieving that next success that we’re ignoring the people we love.

So – let’s let it go.

Let’s choose to get off this ride, the tracks are getting rickety anyway.

Let’s remind each other that success is finding what makes us happy and pursuing it, prestigious or not.

Let’s encourage each other to get out of our bubbles and see the world.

Let’s be there for each other and for those we love.

Let’s be the generations with more fond memories than regrets.


One thought on “The Pirate Ride

  1. Kathy Hoffer

    Katie – I like this. Advice from senior citizens comes from years of doing exactly what you say your generation is doing and then saying, oh hey. I guess it was really simple. Live in the moment. Enjoy what you have. Friends and family make you happier than any amount of money or that new car or house or whatever it was you absolutely had to have. So, as a newly minted senior citizen, I can safely say that true happiness comes from: smiling, eating well, keeping the body moving, staying in touch with those you love. But above all, never never never forget who you are and what your passions are and do not do not do not trade that in for the sake of something which is ultimately meaningless. And remember that who you are and what you love to do morphs as the years go by. And that is very cool. Finally, your generation should not worry about worrying about this. It’s normal.

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