Painted Canvas Kids

This blog post is (on time, thankfully) and about how we sometimes put pressure onto others for the things we want to accomplish in our own lives. I hope that if you need to hear this, you will stick around today.

Life comes with a lot of pressure. That pressure can be too much for some of us to handle on our own, the desires to become famous or to be an author or a musician, to life a good and fulfilling life or to simply survive another day. We all face them and we all have to come to terms with those pressures whether we want to do so or not. So we find whatever way we can to accomplish those things and move on to the next day.

I have friends with amazing plans and dreams, and those dreams come with boat loads of pressure as well, which they handle flawlessly. It stumps me because it seems as if every other day I’m drinking coffee at 3 A.M. and trying to stave off the impending emotional breakdown that is knocking at my door.

Still, I see this in families too.

I see parents who dedicate their entire lives to seeing their children succeed. Which in turn flips those kids to rebellion and intentionally walking away from the dreams their parents had set out for them in order to forge their own paths. Those are the people I want to talk to today. You, whoever you are that is reading this, may not be a kid. You may be older than me and still trying to figure out how to escape the shadow that your parents build for you. I want you to listen to this and take it to heart today.

My mother is a writer and a poet much like myself. She raised me in that world. When I was two or three years old she was reading me Edgar Allan Poe for bed. She cultivated the creativity in my mind when I asked her to paint with me. When we crafted sculptures together. My father played his hand there too. He helped me build model rockets and he taught me how to drive RC cars. He gave me all of the tools that I would need to grow through those small adventures. Never once did my parents expect me to become what they were. I may have inherited the same passion for writing that my mother had, but it was of my own volition. They know as well as I do that if they had pre-decided a path for my life to take that I would have turned on my heel and walked the other way, whistling a tune on my lips as I went. I don’t like authority, which is no secret. I especially don’t like when people tell me the things that I “have” to do.

So I am writing this from somewhat of an estranged bedroom to the rest of the people like myself. We all have our own passions and goals in life. However, I have seen in part, some parents who expect their kids to do specific things. Whether that mentality is carried down through tradition or arrogance, I believe that it is wrong.

We are not raised in this world so that we can bring children in and have them walk the exact same path that we did. We should encourage our children to learn and to experience life in their own ways rather than walk down the same previously trodden path that we had. I won’t urge my children to become writers or bloggers. I won’t try to entice them with the feelings that I get from my career.

The reasoning behind this is simple, those kids won’t be me.

I am wildly creative and I was raised to have a well of willpower to draw from when my world gets dark, but that won’t be the case with my children as it is not the case with everyone. We must allow the new generations to come and to make their own choices and mistakes if we truly wish to continue our society as it is today.

I know a man who is working at the mines today, which is a great job to have. Especially if you are supporting a family and want to make tons of money. I don’t fault anyone for that. However, I know he is only working there because his father put so much pressure on him from his childhood to grow up and make money. His sole purpose, it seems, was to feed his child to the gnashing jaws of the mining industry and let him sort himself out within the bowels. I find it sad. Not in some kind of bullshit postmodernist kind of way. I don’t think that he should not make money just because it’s the trendy thing to think today. In fact, I have the same level of confusion when the argument is brought to me that we should intentionally be broke forever. It doesn’t make sense to me, just the same as the people whose only choice in life is to become rich. Still, this man that I know, openly hates where he works. He complains regularly and wants to quit, but doesn’t. When I asked him why he doesn’t pick up and do the thing he wants to do, he told me that his father would be angry with him.

I sat there, soaking in the conversation between two twenty somethings who are at radically different places in life, as this man told him that his father would be angry if he went on to pursue the things that truly made him happy. I was bewildered. Of course, I couldn’t say that aloud to him. If he reads this I hope that he knows I mean well.

But that is dumb.

My father has encouraged me to carve my own path, but has always reminded me that I need to be able to support myself. He has grown within me the idea that money is important, but it is not the end all be all. He has also encouraged my growth as an artist because he knows that it is what I want and it is more than that, being an artist is who I am. I never really understood how much of an impact it had on me until I spoke with my friend about his relationship with his own father.

A man who was raised in a rough home, who later found a wife and moved to Nevada so that he could work in the mines. The paychecks were just what he needed to feel safe in starting a family, and he then gave birth to a son who he loved with everything inside of him and raised that boy the best way he knew how. Through his childhood my friend came to understand that his father wanted the best for him. That having a secure checking account was one of the easiest ways to do so. Who repeatedly explained to his son that the music and sports that he loved so much in high school were simply hobbies. That there was no money in those careers. So this boy grew and adopted the mentality of his father and when he graduated, he began work in the same industry that his father had before him. Overjoyed, his father celebrated while the boy threw away his dreams of pursuing a degree in music composition. A field, which I have friends in currently.

I don’t fault this father. He wanted his son to grow up secure and safe, so that he could have all of the things that he didn’t when he was a child. Still, it saddens me inside, because it has been months since my friend has put fingers to the ivory keys of his piano. It has been months since he has written a song, or a lyric. It has been months since I have seen his texts to me, telling me that he had just written a song that he wanted me to hear. It has been months since I’ve really heard the joys in his life.

That breaks my heart.

Not because he is in a secure place, no, I am happy for that. The romance of a starving artist is a deadly romance to be sure. It is not what I would recommend to any one of my friends. I am sad about this, because he loved something so much, and it was crushed by the dreams of his father. This broke my heart in so many ways, and reminded me to be thankful for the father I have. That he has always supported and encouraged my growth, but reminded me to keep my wits about me.

So, to you, reading this today. If you are under the thumb of someone else, telling you how you should live, know that you are a part of a larger group. All of you painted ontot he world with love and so much beautiful potential. That you were laid upon this confusing and scary canvas to live a life that you love. To not be tied to a concept you don’t believe in. Don’t work a job just because someone tells you to. Don’t be the person who whines about how much they hate their job and yet do nothing to find one you love. Don’t be the one who throws away their love of reading or painting or woodworking because you just need to make money. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. You were a child painted on a canvas, and you were supposed to be beautiful.

The beauty drains from you with each day you subject yourself to that torture.

Get out. Peel yourself off and paint your life on a new canvas. Do what you love, because you love it. Find a way to make your passions your paychecks, and live. Truly live, because that is what you were meant for.

Thank you for reading this post. New content will be out every Wednesday + Friday from now on. Thank you for lending me your eyes for a time.

For more info on upcoming projects and blog updates, please follow me @alvatobiasbooks on Facebook + Twitter!

Mean Shadows, my latest book, will be releasing Dec. 24th. You can pre-order it here. (If you’d like to get it as a gift, please order before the 18th of Dec. and they will arrive just in time for you to wrap and deliver to someone you love, so that the shadows don’t catch them either.)

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