A frontrunner for my epitaph is, I hope, I lived the adventure. My wife and I are coming up to our 40th wedding anniversary, which near as can be made possible will be in Disney World, and it came to me, by some circuitous thinking that this serves as a triple metaphor for our lives, or those things in our lives that have been paramount, thus far.
It can’t be if you don’t dream it. That doesn’t mean that, just because you do dream it, it will be. Dreams can be as deceptive as they are powerful. One can get lost in the dream which leads to disappointment because we have to wake up. The dream needs to be the jumping-off point, the stimulus to action. But my main point here is that I agree with Walt Disney. If it can all start with a mouse, we have enormous potential. But if we lock ourselves down, focus on reality as it is, we lose sight of the fact that this reality is the product of humanity’s dreams – and nightmares. Yesterday I was adjudicating a young person at a public speaking competition orating on demilitarisation and the abolition of war. Sure, there were flaws in his logic, but there was also power in his dream. It wasn’t ridiculously naive twaddle, it was the germ of something doable. It might just stay a speech for a competition, just a dream. Or it might be that he, his friends, those they influence, become part of something bigger. We visited Disneyland when our children were very young. We had a dream that we would have a family holiday in Disney World when they were older. We never managed to make it happen directly, but this January it’s going to happen because our children are making it happen. And the bonus – there will be grandchildren as well. However much we may have ‘failed’ in translating the dream into being, it wouldn’t have been at all if we hadn’t dreamed it first.
Get up and get out there. I can look back and reflect that we must have been too naive and silly to be sufficiently scared to do some of the things we did. Thank God for that! Was it always great? No! Did we stuff up? Yep, sometimes with impressive orders of magnitude. Would we have been in better shape financially if we had stayed low and inside? Well, probably, but that’s a bit of an unknown. Would we do it again? Oh yes. It has been an awesome adventure. And it has helped us to see, as we launch into our 7th decade, that we can stay out there, stay in touch, stay fit, stay active, stay giving, stay in the adventure.
Relationships are at the centre – doesn’t matter what wheel you are riding. Again, I have made some spectacular mistakes in relationships. Typically they have involved underestimating, undervaluing or simply misunderstanding others, or fulfilling my role in relation to them poorly. But being committed to relationships, family in particular, has always been central. So a family holiday to Disney World seems to encapsulate the idea fairly adequately.
There is no adventure without risk. So let’s take one of Aristotle’s virtues, bravery – the mid-point between cowardice and foolhardiness – and live the adventure.