My wife took my five year-old son to the mall last week to shop for clothes. One store had a small table full of Legos for kids to play with while their parents shopped. Perfect for my son – he loves to build things even more than he loves to wander off.
As he was playing, a young girl came up and joined him. He related the story to me after he got home (using an exaggerated whisper voice throughout):
K (urgently): “Dad! I need to TELL you something!”
Me: “What is it, son?!?”
K: “I met a new friend today!!”
Me: “Oh? What’s your friend’s name?”
K: “I don’t know! But, Dad?” (here K whispers even louder and more conspiratorially) “She was seven, and she was beautiful!!!”
K: “Yes! And Dad?” (grabs me by my collar so he can whisper shout in my ear) “I think she’s going to be my WIFE!!!”
Me (fighting back a smile): “But K, how can you marry her if you don’t even know her name?”
K (after thoughtful pause): “I don’t know…”
Me: “Maybe you shouldn’t worry about getting married until you’re at least old enough to drive – OK, bud?”
K: “But Dad – I’m too SHORT to drive a car!!!”
I love how K didn’t concern himself with the details (at least not until I crushed his hopes with brutal reality).
He was operating under the confidence of innocence; in other words, having no experience to tell him otherwise about the vagaries of courtship and dating, he simply assumed that the first pretty girl he met would someday become his wife. No problem, Dad!
As we grow up, we gather plenty of life experience that teaches us the dangers of risk and failure. But focusing too much on the downside of things makes us risk-averse, and eventually locks us into whatever comfort zone presents itself.
We avoid taking chances because we’re afraid of failure – but what we should fear more is never trying – never attempting anything great.
I like comfort as much as anyone, but a life lived in total comfort and security is at best unfulfilling, and at worst insignificant.
Following a dream to wherever it may lead requires a child-like faith – the type of faith that never even considers the thousand reasons why an idea might go down in flames, but focuses instead on the remote chance and hope of complete success.
For decades, I’ve wanted to write for a living. I’ve always found easy excuses not to write, but now I’m trying to be more like my son – because working hard and expecting success is much better than doing nothing but worrying about failure.