On Leaving Home

Are You Gonna Be Mark, Sam, or Andrew?The best thing about being 22 years old is the future and the worst thing about being 30 years old is the past.

I pick 22 years of age because it is an age when many people (like me) finally leave the structure, comfort, and safety of school and home in order to embark on their life’s journey.

That journey can be centered on career, family, adventure, reality TV, whatever.

Everything that came before – everything — was preparation for this journey: elementary school/high school/college, driving lessons, summer camp, swimming lesson, Sunday School, summer on the kibbutz, dinner with your family, visiting grandparents…everything.

At the age of 22, you are on your own. Hopefully your parents, extended family, and friends have prepared you well. Hopefully you are ready.

But you are still on your own. It’s your life now. You have the owner’s manual.

Some 22-year olds seize this opportunity to leave their hometown in order to see what the rest of the world looks like, to challenge themselves, to find a stage where their talents will be appreciated.

Some 22-year olds choose instead to settle and stay close to home and family.

Fast forward a few years…

No 30-year old has ever regretted the decision to leave family and home when they started out. They may have successfully pursued dreams and made a life on their own, grateful for the preparation they received. Or they may have had their ass kicked in Gotham, had their heart broken by dying dreams, cruelly learned that their talent is more limited than the competition.

They may have returned home seeing themselves as failures, but they are never sorry that they gave themselves a chance to succeed. Often, they are able to use their experiences in a distant city to create success in their hometown.

However, the 30-year old who never left town will wake up one morning and ask, “what the hell happened?”

What that 30-year old will have discovered is that their talents and dreams mean nothing in their hometown. Any success of theirs will be resented. Any failure of theirs will be celebrated.

And if you are 30 years old and decide to leave comfort of home to seek fame and fortune? That, my friend, is a hard, hard road and I do not envy you. In many ways, it is too late to make that decision.

Those years between 22 and 30 race by more quickly than any human can imagine. It is only after you have lived through those years that you understand how precious they are.

About Stephen Dedalus, Jr.

I am trying to awaken from the history of my ancestor's nightmare to comment on my Holy Trinity of Interests: art, literature, and music. Oh, and thoughts on dysfunctional families, which is to say families.
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