It was an emotional Sunday for me. It was my 36th birthday and I watched tens of thousands of people cry on TV – not because I'm getting older, but because Italian football club AS Roma was saying goodbye to their star player Francesco Totti.
It was an incredible sight. Totti spent the last 28 years playing for Roma and was at one point one of the best football strikers in the world. This means, he could've gone away to bigger clubs and receive more money than he did (it's not like he was working for minimum wage, but still...), but chose instead to play for the club he loves until the end of his career. As you can imagine, his last game was extremely emotional with everybody on the stadium, from the cleaners to the club president, weeping like little kids. It was beautiful, but it also marked a definite end to an era of playing football for love. Today, the game is much different.
I won't be going on a long rant about football (although, God knows I could). The only reason I'm mentioning this story is because I was talking to a good friend of mine about this earlier and we agreed it was such a powerful moment seeing this incredibly successful player in front of 50,000 screaming, crying fans, saying goodbye to such an important part of his life. Imagine doing one job for 28 years and being so successful at it you are put alongside some of the greats of your time, having an army of fans follow you because of your job performance, and then having to quit. That surely is a hard step to take to say the least. My friend commented how change and facing uncertainty is always a difficult task in life, regardless of one's means and life style. She is definitely right, but it also made me think as to why facing change is such a big deal to us.
I personally love change. You could say I'm addicted to it. There is nothing I like more than a clean slate, a new beginning, an empty sheet of paper. Uncertainty often times holds within endless possibilities. Of course, when I talk about uncertainty, I usually think about career changes or moving. Obviously, some people face such dire situations in life they are not as giddy as me because they don't know what tomorrow brings. But, when talking about everyday changes in life, I think the majority of people are too cautious. People resist change, they are intimidated by it, often times for no valid reason.
The mere fact they don't know for sure what their lives will look like tomorrow is enough to have many of them shaking in their boots.
I've had multiple new beginnings in my life, whether professional or emotional. Sometimes new ventures would turn out to be good, sometimes less so, but the rush of excitement at all the different prospects opening up in front of me was always intoxicating. In fact, if there is one thing that causes unease in me as I'm growing older, it's narrowing of options. The younger you are the more possibilities are in front of you. As you are growing older you are making choices that limit your options: you are investing in a career, having children, buying real estate. All these limit your options... maybe some new ones are opening, but many more are closing at the same time.
So, why do we do this? Why are we limiting our options? Simply put, to increase security. Having a career in one field increases your job security. Getting married and having children ensures you will have someone to lean on emotionally in the future. Buying a house should enable you a steady roof over your head regardless of the variations in the property market of your local area. We are exchanging incredible, exciting future options for secured present benefits which will hopefully fulfil us. It makes sense. It's a reasonable thing to do. But still, I can't get over the fact that every step we make leaves an infinite number of possibilities unrealised. It’s as if we are wilfully saying goodbye to a myriad of different lives that could’ve been.
Maybe I’m foolish to dwell on it, but isn’t the day we all dread in life the one when we will truly be left without any options to choose from and with only one box left to tick.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.