Part Two: Why Not?
If it’s not common knowledge already, I’m a clown magician who volunteers for Hospice, doing my part for the compassionate art of humor therapy. With giving performances in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, I meet a lot of elderly people from all sorts of backgrounds. And, no matter what that background is, I have found that those I’ve spoken with generally fit into one or two categories. The first group is one collected from those filled with regret. It’s easy to pick them out, really. They’re usually depressed, staring off into the distance or looking aimlessly around, and all their stories either start with or end with, “I wish I would have…” or “oh, if only I…” (Always reminds me of the line: “I could have been a contender.”)
Of course, that other group I mentioned – just the opposite. They’re always smiling, very friendly, often out-going without shame or restraint, and filled with tales of all the things they did in life: “I was a burlesque dancer in France just after the war.” “I performed in a Vaudeville act. We didn’t ever make it big, but boy! Was that fun! I even met Harpo Marx once! Couldn’t understand a word he said, though, but he was one hell of a great guy!” “My sister and I were always getting into trouble. We snuck in the country fair and filled all the pie pans with pig slop just before the pie eating contest… man! Did we ever get it for that one! Never stopped us, though.”
Meeting them, one cannot help but wonder: Why didn’t everyone just follow their desires, play out their passions, and live out their dreams? And, before one can even attempt to toss an answer at that, the epiphany hits: When I get that old, which group would I fit in?
Seems to me, at the end of it all, life is about your collection of experiences and how you perceive them. Sure, attitude and such factor into this, but the bottom line is the same: either you will be filled with regret or you will actually look back and laugh like the old cliché says. (Can it really be that simple?)
All and all, this opened my eyes. I decided to look at all the “crazy” ideas I’ve come up with and asked myself what was stopping me from doing them. Surprisingly, the answer came quickly: I was too wrapped up with trying to figure out the how’s and the why’s… all along dreaming about “if only.” I was trying too hard to analyze, estimate, and predict… and not at all attempting to truly test my theories. Was it the fear that I would fail? Was I afraid to succeed? Did I doubt it would work? Did I doubt anyone would be interested? Blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah.
Why was I asking myself all these questions? I didn’t have the answers – there was no way I could. All I had was a fistful of speculations and a mouthful of blah. I didn’t have the facts. I never went out and tried to gather them. I was just researching other people’s experiences instead of creating my own. I was spending all my time thinking about it… not nearly enough time just doing it.
That’s when I started to ask: Why not? Why not give it a try? Why not see what happens? Why not go all out and blow the roof off this circus tent with every bit of passion I have? Just about every attempt to answer “why not?” is an excuse. Excuses only hold us back. Excuses only weigh us down. So, damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!
History is not made by those who give in to traditions. History is made by those daring enough to break the mold and create something new. As an old Chinese proverb states, “one who walks in another’s steps leaves no footprints.” I don’t want to end my days in a sea of regrets. I want to soar through the sky even if it kills me. So… why not? Why not carve my own path and go all out? It’s not like I’ll ever know for sure if all those speculations were invalid or correct unless I take myself out for a test drive and see what I can do, right?
Oh, that reminds me. A few days ago, I sent in a proposal to the Guinness World Records committee. Just thought I’d mention it as the wait for their reply has me doing somersaults. Just another 3-5 weeks to go. But, let me not get too ahead of myself. After all, patience is still a virtue.