My friend Randy Huston is an excellent singer and songwriter. He’s been a publisher in Nashville and continues to be passionate about the music he writes and sings. As passionate as he is about this however, he is even more passionate about his life as a rancher and cowboy. He works harder than just about anyone I know (except a few other cowboys) and he deals head on with the harsh New Mexico elements and the dangers inherent in his work on a daily basis. His is both an intellectual commitment…he believes strongly in the value of the livestock industry…and a deep emotional connection to the land and the cowboy way of life. He once told me that a person would have to love it in order to do what he does, otherwise they would be crazy. Randy clearly loves what he does. He may be crazy, too, but that doesn’t change the fact that he loves his life. He cares.
In some circles, it is fashionable and hip to be blasé. “Whatever.” Roll of the eyes. While I tend to associate this type of behavior with adolescence, I also see too many adults who adopt this pose. With teenagers, it comes with the territory and many of them will outgrow it. I’m afraid that’s not the case with adults. We should be beyond posing. I think maybe it feels safer to pretend like nothing much matters to you. If you don’t care, you don’t get disappointed when what you care about doesn’t work out. You dream small or worse, you don’t dream at all. You just amble through life going through the motions without ever investing your emotions. If you don’t take risks, you don’t get let down. You also don’t accomplish much and you don’t experience that exhilarating thrill that accompanies the passionate pursuit of your dreams. You don’t dare to care.
We’ve been through some difficult economic times in the past seven years, which tends to make people circle the wagons and not take financial risks. While I understand that, I think the danger is that this “safe” stance can become pervasive and infect our overall approach to life. For young people just starting out in their adult lives, it’s compounded by the fact that there really are fewer opportunities available than there once were. If you get your education and do things the “right way,” you’re supposed to be able to dream big. It’s a lot tougher to do that these days. It’s an interesting dilemma. One way to view it is that if the opportunities aren’t present, you can’t dream about taking advantage of them so there’s no point in caring.
Another way to look at it though is that if you dream big dreams, you’ll make your own opportunities. I’m not saying it’s easy or that everyone will succeed. I am saying that if you are passionate about what you want to do with your life, if you take chances even though you’re scared, if you’re resilient enough to get back up when life knocks you down, you may just find yourself succeeding where others fail…and many don’t even try. In fact, you’ll wind up changing your definition of success. It’s not an end point, it’s a journey. If you wake up most days raring to take on the world, passionate about what you’re doing, a little scared but excited at the same time, you’re LIVING! Otherwise, you’re just existing. So…who cares?