If You Could Do Anything What Would You Do?


If you could do anything what would you do is a question that vexes me because it tugs on two different sides of me with reckless abandon.

It touches upon the dreamer who doesn’t accept limitations and is willing to run through walls and will dance in the fire for as long it takes to get it done.

But there is that other piece that says, “slow down cowboy and deal with what you know is real.” I hear that voice and I nod my head because it is sensible to take a step back and try to focus on the things that are possible and ignore that which isn’t.

Yet every time I do that a piece of me dies a slow death. It reminds me of decades of playing football without pads and repeating the mantra that you only get hurt if you are scared.

Calm your nerves, quiet the whispers and run across the field without fear and all will be well.

It works. I know from experience. More than 30 years of playing tells me that there have been sore muscles, some bruises and one dislocated finger.

My grandfathers and father told me many times that I was being foolish and that one day it would catch up to me. I laughed and told them that I would fight the devil himself and prevail because that is just how it is.

I see them shake their heads and I understand because I would tell my son not be a fool. It is foolish talk and no one outruns life forever.

Balance Can Be Had

Balance cannot be found in everything but in this area it can be. I can marry these two schools of thought. I can find a place where it is comfortable for all of us and that is what I try to do.

My approach is to look at the question in simple terms.  It is not about what superpower I want but how I want to live my life. That is the root of the question. If you could live anywhere, with anyone and do anything what would those things be.

I suppose this is part of why I want to live to be 1,000. There are lots of places I want to live and things that I want to do. I want to live long enough to become an expert and an authority on these things. I want to spend enough time living in these places that I am not a tourist or newcomer.

That is all fine and good but it doesn’t answer the question in the way that it needs to be answered. That answer is subjective and will be different for all of us.

I am willing to share some of these thoughts with you but not all of them. Some of what I am working towards will remain unspoken and unwritten. That is not because I am afraid to share it but because we all need to secure pieces and parts of ourselves for those who matter most and no other.

The general focus here is to do the things that feed my soul and make my heart swell. It is to live a life of as much love and laughter as a man can experience.

It is why I keep pushing myself to become a better writer. It is why I focus on the creative side.

Responsibilities Versus The Song of My Heart

There are little people that lean on me. They expect me to love them unconditionally and to keep them safe from harm. They expect me to listen to their stories and to teach them things about life and living.

It is an obligation I never forget about. It doesn’t upset or anger me. I knew what I was doing. I wanted children, more than I have now.

But that doesn’t mean that I love mine any less. It is not even a question.

What is challenging is trying to figure out how to give them what they need and deserve while not losing sight of myself and my dreams. There is no guide or map book for this.

Some of this falls into the category of learn by doing. There are moments when being a parent is a bit like walking through a dark forest at night without a flashlight or moon.

You do your best not to trip too many times and hope that you don’t get scraped up too badly. Those mysterious crunches and the things you  sense lurking sometimes make you uncomfortable, but you ignore them and keep moving ahead because that is what is required.

When I Close My Eyes

I tell my children the goal is to fall asleep knowing that we did our best and that even when we have a bad day that should be enough. It is harder for me to accept it, but I try.

It works best when I know that I am doing my best to live in sync with the life I want to live.

What about you? If you could do anything what would you do?

This is part of Just Write #44.

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  1. Jens July 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I would probably be doing what I’m doing right now, writing and marketing as part of my own business as a solo entrepreneur and spending as much time as possible with my family.

    Very interesting post. It got me thinking about what I’m doing and what I want my kids to be doing.

    • TheJackB July 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm

       @Jens  I look at the blog as a way to think out loud, ask questions and hopefully answer them.
      I think it is great that your answer is you would be doing the same thing as now. When we can say that we are living the life we dream of good things are happening for us.

  2. Biebert July 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    @mikerobards @TheJackB Glad you liked it Mike. Jack is a brilliant guy. Love sharing his posts.

  3. Soulati July 19, 2012 at 6:47 am

    My takeaway — let the children learn by falling down; our duty is to protect them from serious and lasting injury. When someone is bullheaded as you indeed were/are? then it’s your consequence and THAT’s something we also need to teach our children.

  4. geekazine July 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    @SugarJones Actually it should be – If you could do anything, what WOULDN’T you do?

  5. SugarJones13 July 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I love how you wrapped this up into living in sync with the life you want to live. I think that’s the key. Not the life others want you to live, but the one that is deep down, reminding you about who you are and all those dreams.

    • TheJackB July 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Let others live their own lives. We need to live ours. It is one of the few things I am truly certain about.
      When we live the kind of life that makes our dreams into reality we become better and happier people. It is a reasonable goal and something worth fighting for.

  6. Erin F. July 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I know your post is about what we would do if we could do anything, but I really, really liked these lines: “Some of what I am working towards will remain unspoken and unwritten. That is not because I am afraid to share it but because we all need to secure pieces and parts of ourselves for those who matter most and no other.”
    If I could do anything I wanted to do, I would write. I would read. I would go talk with people about writing and creativity.

    • TheJackB July 17, 2012 at 11:51 pm

       @Erin F. 
      Thank you. Those lines mean something to me. There are boundaries in blogging. I let a lot hang out here, but not everything.
      I like your dream there, I think about that too. I think about having the time and place to do all those things. The chance to talk with others who love words about why they do and what they mean.
      The chance to just read and write.

      • Erin F. July 18, 2012 at 4:21 am

         @TheJackB The lines mean something to me, too.
        I was reading an interview with Tobias Wolff at the Paris Review the other day. He said something about compromise that reminds me of your thoughts regarding boundaries.

  7. bdorman264 July 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I would have to say I’m doing it. I wanted a family and because of that some of my life choices were conservative because it wasn’t all about me anymore. Because of this, and it has taken some time, this is my bed and I try to be the best I can be right here, right now. 
    I want to be curious, inquisitive and always learning; but also want to be content enough that I’m happy where I am. 

    • TheJackB July 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm

       @bdorman264 If you are doing it then you are on the right path or so it seems to me.
      You also keyed in on something: “Happy where I am” resonates with me. I try for that too. Life changes constantly and if you can be happy where you are at it means that you are happy more frequently and that is worth something.

  8. Julie July 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I’m the most uncomfortable I have ever been, bar none, and yet I am simultaneously the most at peace since perhaps childhood.  I don’t know how to prove it to you but I would say, don’t ignore, take the wild leaps…not in an irresponsible way, but in a joyous way.  After all, your intuition would not guide you away from raising your children, would it?  But it might lead you into a most interesting other place.  You can often have both.

    • TheJackB July 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm

       @Julie | A Clear Sign I am following the path mostly by feel and a bit by sight, but still following.
      I understand what you are saying and can relate to it because that is how I feel. It is a crazy time but I have this sense of self and accomplishment that I haven’t felt in a while. It is the calm before the storm, but in a good way.

  9. Sandi Amorim July 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’m drawn to those things, activities and people that “ feed my soul and make my heart swell” When I fill my days with these I feel satisfied with life. When I am distracted by other things that sometimes feel necessary, I begin questioning, doubting, even suffering. 
    I’m fortunate in that I’ve been doing work I want to do for the past 12 years, but it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve made compromises to enjoy the freedom of being self-employed which for the most part have been worth it. Lately I’ve been pondering the next layer, what would be beyond this comfort zone I’ve created. No answers yet, but the journey has been interesting. 

    • TheJackB July 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm

       @Sandi Amorim The joy of the journey lies in finding the answers to those questions. I sometimes hate the process but when I look back I almost always smile. The growth and learning are spectacular.
      Twelve years of self employment is awesome. So many people and fail to make it happen, so you deserve kudos for making it work. You figured something out that is worth knowing.

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