A friend of mine suggested recently that I take a gander at the lyrics of Cat Stevens’ (aka Yusuf Islam)”Father and Son”. Since my own father passed away not so long ago, I’ve done my best to avoid the track, but this time around I felt compelled to read it. For those of you who can’t be bothered to read, here’s the track:
Yeah. A bit depressing, right? Yup.
Here’s the thing: as much as the song has a point about the impetuousness of youth and the wanton disregard for the wisdom of a life’s worth of experience (something that marked the relationship my dad and I had), the fact is that you cannot expect to grow by sitting and listening to others.
Yes, you need to take heed of those who have gone before you, if only to know what pitfalls may await you.
But you cannot let them live your life for you.
You need to make mistakes. You need to fall. You need to lose your way. You need to take risks. You need to fail. That’s what life (and creativity – see how I tied it back? Slick!) is all about. Creativity is all about mistakes, doing the unexpected, the frowned-upon…
People will always tell you through deeds and words what is expected of you, what is allowed, what can never be considered… You can listen to them – and live a life of no consequence. You’ll achieve nothing, not professionally, not personally…
Or you can do like Chris Columbus, Roald Amundsen, Chief Sitting Bull, Ghandhi, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, Amelia Earhart, Cleopatra, Marie Curie and a host of other historical and contemporary figures who decided that doing what they wanted with their lives was what mattered and the nay-sayers be damned.
Your path through life has two distinct forks at all junctures: do what is expected – or do what makes you happy.
And very seldom are either the same choice.
The decision and its consequences are always yours. And the experience can never be substituted or stolen from you.
So..what’s it gonna be?
[It’s been 2 years since I lost my father. I miss you, old man.]