The scene is Carnegie Mellon University, a crowded conference hall, and I'm looking at a Virtual Reality Professor giving his last lecture. On the stage Randy Pausch is talking about one of his childhood dream; to experience zero gravity.
This video went around the internet. Why? Because, even though the lecturer Randy Pausch had terminal pancreatic cancer, he held a lecture so funny and inspiring, that everyone was just awed. This guy was so alive and yet touched by certain death. The speech made such an impact, that Randy got on Oprah, and the city of Pittsburgh recently declared November 19th to be Randy Pausch day.What Randy talked about was how he achieved his childhood dreams. He had wanted to experience zero gravity, to be a Disney Imagineer and be Captain Kirk. And seeing Randy checking these items of his "life todolist" as achieved, was deeply moving and inspiring.
My own list of Childhood Dreams that never really left me
It was amazing how powerful this notion of your childhood dreams felt. And I began instantly to recall my own dreams from way back when. It was fascinating to revisit dreams I had forgotten so long, and how happy these ideas and dreams made me feel.
- Pilot an actual aeroplane
- Have a karate black belt
- Have Wolverine (superhero) Claws that go "snikt"
- Be able to do magic
- Be a professional artist - painter mostly.
- Be a lead-singer in a band.
What struck me was how these dreams never really left me. For example... I have this slight quirk. When someone else would fantasize themselves a tough guy by squinting and saying something like "do you feel lucky... punk?", well instead I just narrow my eyes, clench my hands and imagine adamantium claws exploding from my fists. Sad but true :) They would probably make security checks in airports even worse. But the point is... Twenty years have passed since I was a deranged, teenage, comic book fan, and this dream still lives with me.
The flimsy goals of today
Now fast forward to life in the 21st century and think about how goals and project appear and disappear like clouds on the horizon. Me, a year ago, I was sooo into this project of establishing a consultancy business. I wanted to teach people innovation and rework the group dynamics at the same time. I pitched ideas to people and got a part-time deal with my company. Today this idea is long forgotten, and I have moved on to other ideas and dreams.
It's so typical! I get all wound up about something only to see the dream I have planted in my mind wither and die from neglect. And yet there's these tough little dreams that keep living without special nourishment.
And now when I revisit the list years later. The thing is... I could do some of this stuff! Not the magic and claws stuff, but some of the other things aren't at all as remote and unattainable as they seemed when I was a kid. Sure getting a license to fly an aeroplane would be pretty costly, but it's totally doable. I could actually do it if I really want to.
That is a nice feeling.
I could actually start getting myself a black belt in karate as well. The years of training to get to the goal seems less daunting now when I'm older. I have completed challenges with a longer timeframe than this.
And it's not something to be stressed out over. These dreams are in the category of Important but not urgent. They have been around for so long, and if the get completed in the next decade it's just fine.
Building on old dreams
The nice thing about my childhood dreams are how well they connect with some of my present wishes.
I have been trying to implement a some kind of training habit for many years. I have tried running, yoga, fittness, football, squash and cykling. But I haven't been able to sustain any of these habits.
But what if I tried to make real my childhood dream of having a black belt in karate? How cool would that be? I can just imagine how great this feeling would be! And I would need to train pretty hard!
And being a professional artist painting pictures. When I look at the stuff hanging at cafés all over town, I think I could do just as well.
Something that isn't work
The great thing about these childhood dream are how unlike work they seem. They are more connected with feelings of fun and childhood magic.
It's a work hazard of every productivity freak to become too focused on getting the job done, and getting the most out of your hours. I constantly need to remind myself that it's possible to relax and not do anything. I'm so used to living out of my next actions lists now.
So this year I'll let myself relax a little, and let some foolishness from my childhood reenter my life. I think it'll be good fun, and probably healthy too.
Merry Christmas to you all, and happy new year!
- Jens Poder