Ten-year-olds, when asked, will still say that they dream of becoming musicians, singers, painters, writers, poets, dancers, superhumans, astronauts, soccer players, and so on. Little do they realise that by the time they’re eighteen, they’d be sitting in a classroom studying engineering, medicine, law or commerce; and merely a handful of them would be fortunate enough to follow their childhood dreams as hobbies, as something they like to do apart from what they are supposed to do.
We, as a society, have mastered the art of killing dreams, suppressing imagination and making children believe that they aren’t courageous enough to pursue their ambitions. We have very gracefully tabooed the existence of dreams. We have spoon-fed our children that all that is needed in life is a secure future and stability. The importance of a secure and stable life is not like the alphabet that we should make them mug up. It is something they should learn, on their own. All that we have taught them is how to never take the road that is less travelled upon. We have told them over and again to not take risks, to not venture out in the world, to not play. All they have learnt is to turn a deaf ear to their own heart and follow what rest of the world tells them to do. It is only unfortunate that our children can never really relate to the following lines!
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
We have failed to show them that a storming wild sea is a better sight than a calm still one. What we have actually been trying to show them is that a definite route from home to the office is better than an unplanned trek on the hills or a deep sea dive. As we sit here, leading predictable mundane lives complaining about the monotony every now and then, we plan to teach our kids the same. We plan to make them lead as predictable, as mundane and as monotonous lives so that they do not fall short of things to complain about.
I would rather die of passion than of boredom.
–Vincent Van Gogh
We tell them not to travel alone. We never tell them how to plan a safe solo trip.
We never tell them how to not give in to the expectations of others.
We never tell them that every tune they compose is beautiful because it is original.
We never tell them how every goal they score in a street game is taking them closer to the international soccer fields.
We never tell them that every page they read from A Brief History of Time might be taking them closer to the stars!
For all, we tell them is that these things are merely a distraction and textbooks are what should be worshipped.
We are the guardians and it is solely our responsibility to make our children see how varied the world is and what all sorts of dreams people are pursuing. We have to show them that it is absolutely alright if they take a drop after school and start college a year later. It is alright if they spend a year trying to set up a business and they fail. What matters is trying. Age is just yet another restriction imposed by the society. Failure doesn’t mean that they are incapable of doing anything. It means that they have to choose from the other million options and keep trying till they get the best for themselves! One lifetime is too short to not experiment.
It is about time that we made our children brave enough to break free from the shackles of the society. There’s a wonderful thing about these chains. The more you try to escape them, the looser the grip gets. So let your children try their hands at their dreams while they still have time; while they still are young, wild and free.
Make them bold. Make them beautiful.
And a quote from my favourite Ralph Waldo Emerson probably summarises the whole thought.
Always do what you are afraid to do.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Featured Image Courtesy: ‘A Boy in mid-flight, Jodhpur, India, 2007’ photographed by Steve Mccurry