What do you want to be when you grow up? When we are young, this is a common question, one made to, I guess, see if we have even an inkling of the big wide world that surrounds us. We wanted to be actors or cowboys or doctors or astronauts. Our parents wanted to know, our grandparents were curious as well and as for our siblings, they probably didn’t really care but just wanted to be sure we had a plan to leave the house thus freeing up extra closet space. Anyway, my personal wanna “be” choices ranged from veterinarian, to well, a fireman.
The fireman idea grew from the fun I had riding to scenes of fires in the middle of the night with my father, who as a county commissioner at the time, was charged with setting up the first volunteer fire departments in our county. This was always a great time for me, while Mother would protest about taking the children out in the middle of the night, most often she would get overruled, and off we would roll. Cold as hell winds blowing through the canvas topped jeep, police radio blaring the directions and calling all cars, it was just a high ‘ole time. Now when you are four years old, the destruction and damage caused never was factored into it. It was all about the excitement, the blaze, watching the brave firemen on the ladders. This was cool. Melodrama in pink footed pajamas.
The Veterinarian idea came, I reckon, from my love of animals of any sort as long as they were warm and furry. No, didn’t then, nor do I now, subscribe to anything that slithers or has more than four legs. Cats, dogs, horses ( especially horses) were near and dear to my heart. Of course my view of what a Vet actually did was limited. I mean at four, you rode to the vets office in the back seat of your car, with your dog or cat on your lap. Tiger or Barney or Sam or whoever, would be feeling poorly, but after a quick visit in the “back room” with the doc, all was well and homeward bound everyone went.
Animal death was not a frequent occurrence around our house. While there may from time to time have been one or two that went to visit someone on a farm somewhere, most of our pets lasted..well not forever, but a really, really long time. There was that one rabbit that passed away from constipation from eating the neighbors rose-bush, but that was his own fault. That and the fact that he looked no worse for wear upon his demise, other than a little more plump than usual, death didn’t seem such a big deal. Then there was one dachshund, Weenie, that got hit by a car and was subsequently whisked away by probably my oldest brother. As Weenie was my Mothers favorite, she was almost immediately replaced by another dachshund, Tar-baby, who while doing more weeing than Weenie ever thought of, was all and all a fair-to-middling substitute. As for our cats, now we all know that cats come and cats go. Most replace themselves. It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. Even today, we will lose one cat and within weeks a replacement shows up at the back door. Not necessarily a ghost of Christmas past sort of thing, I mean they don’t normally look-alike, but it’s like God says, “Ok , there’s a slot empty, someone go fill it”. I mean right now, as I type, I have two very healthy, pretty cool gray tabby cats that are part of the family and wouldn’t you know, there have appeared in our back yard, three, yes count them, three orange cats just juggling for position as replacements. Cat manufacturing must be at an all time high and they are sending them out of the factory ahead of schedule. Needless to say, our cats are starting to become a little concerned about this excessive queue. I told them just to think of the back yard like the Atlanta airport, and the extras having circled and landed, are just getting refueled for takeoff to places down the street.
But I digress… where was ?… right, growing up and deciding what you want to be. As I got older, the idea of a fireman faded quickly, as climbing a ladder grew less enticing. As for a career as a veterinarian, well along with the love of animals, came a heart that would break seeing all that pain that went on in the back room, so that idea faded as well.
So here I am, still asking the question. What do I want to be when I grow up? Over the years I have tried and eliminated some occupations. Perhaps it’s not the being that matters but the exploration of the potential “be” that is the thing more on which to concentrate. You try and fail and sometimes you try and succeed. Often after you succeed you can retire from what it was that you wanted to be. Then you get bored and try to find something else to “be” other than retired. Maybe getting to be what you wanted, may not live up to the hype. Perhaps it’s more advantageous to do like the orange cats, circle and land and refuel for another takeoff to places unknown.