Sometimes words are all we have. They define our existence and allow us to communicate about anything and everything we have to share with this world we all live in. Words can survive us, provoke us, encourage us, and ultimately change us as we allow them to. The following are my words – this is my lesson; and I sincerely hope they help someone, anyone, or everyone think differently about what’s next.
So here is the reality of life. I’m suddenly in my early 30’s – I’m married, I have a good paying job, I have several loving pets, I never worry about my next meal, I operate my own travel business, I own my own home with a little tropical yard, I have a nice car, I’m fairly healthy, I literally can hold all the knowledge of mankind in a device that fits into my palm, I’m insured, and a year ago I told myself I was going to give it all up for something bigger – a dream.
But I didn’t.
See there’s a whole side of my reality; and I’m guessing yours too – those things we don’t often speak of. Here’s the rest of reality. I seemingly always owe something to somebody, I worry, I fret, I am anxious, I’m dejected, I work 80 hours a week, I take too many medications, my body is starting to hurt where it didn’t before, and I’ve learned the incredibly hard lesson that sometimes a dream is going to always remain just that, a dream, unless we seize the day.
Oh, and then there’s more.
I’m going to die. And before I do I am probably not going to change the world nor am I going to discover anything amazing to alter the course of history. There won’t be a monument built for me and in all likelihood my name will be forgotten within a generation or two. Everything I ever stood for will be a passing memory, a fraction of a second in the history of our world. And honestly, that’s all true for most of us. Maybe you’re annoyed I’m writing this, maybe my bluntness aggravates you, or heck, maybe you’re even intrigued. Maybe you’ll read the rest of these words and maybe you’ll go about your life. Either way, there’s a point to all this…
The harder half of reality used to make me sad – perhaps even depressed that my life would mean so little in the grander scheme of things. But then I realized something in the fleeting hours of one night recently: that this one life is all we have to define our eternity – so we better well live it and live it well.
What is tomorrow? What is next week? Or next year? Or I’ll do it when I have the money, time, effort, or will? I think they might be excuses. Excuses perhaps based on fear – fear of what we can’t see ahead of us. None of these future times is a guarantee; they’re all theoretical. But we do the math and make the assumption we always have time; but eventually – we don’t. The clock runs out and all the things we’d hoped to do or dreamed about linger about only as, “I wish I had…”
What matters most in this world? Why are we here? What is the meaning to life? All these philosophical questions are on the tip of everyone’s tongue at some point or another. I know I think of them often as I look for an absolute, something I personally have a great difficult finding; many of you might call it faith. But lets put our spirituality aside, as that is neither here nor there. Right now I’m talking about our physical existence – and what it ultimately means.
Gosh there are so many quotes out there that are great for this type of post. Quotes about love, and life, and living, and dreams – just so much inspirational material. And I won’t post any of them here because we’ll just forget them again, and put off today what we can do tomorrow – am I right? This is too familiar isn’t it? I feel like every day I focus on what I’ll eventually do, or eventually achieve – and not enough on what I’m doing in the one moment I can actually control, here and now. Because everything after this moment is totally out of my control; curve balls inevitably get thrown our way, life bucks and jolts us through surprises (good and bad), and the master plan turns out to be more of a general guideline than an exact roadmap.
A year ago I told myself and I told my wife what I wanted. I said I wanted to live the next few years of our lives together in a different place, a place that we both dearly love and genuinely feel at peace when we’re there. For perhaps the first time in my life I felt like I was taking the proverbial bull by the horns and making things happen. I was going to live a dream I’d had for a decade. And I learned quickly that if there’s one thing that can get your in way of your dreams – it’s you.
So here I am, one year later – and nothing’s changed. Well, there is one thing. I regret I faltered. I regret I didn’t do what I said I wanted to do. In another trip around our star, I did a lot of things – but I didn’t do the ONE thing I really wanted to do. I put off that dream for another time, some vague idea of 1-5 years in the future. I’m sure there’s the concept of responsibility in all this somewhere. That I’m being responsible by not taking extreme risks in all of this, that I’m somehow charting my course before I set sail. But is this also foolish on my part? What if when I was busily charting my course, checking my bearings, and preparing for my journey – that I just up and died? That hits like a brick in the face doesn’t it?
Let me be blunt and honest.
This is all we have. Right here, right now. There is no guarantee of the future. If you have a dream or an idea – go do it! Do what makes you happy. Forget the money, trust me on this, you will find a way to survive when you’re happy. Learn to love more, it’s the only way you’re going to be truly happy. Be aware that you can’t control all the elements, but you can control your perception of them. And please don’t read all of this and forget it; this can be a jarring and momentous occasion to make change in your own life.
I should go get on an airplane right now, seriously – I know that I should. I should go to where I want to be and start living the life I want to live. But I’ve got to learn my own lesson. Like you, like all of us, I’m counting on tomorrow – and the next day, and then the day after that. If I’m fortunate, one day I’ll heed my own advice. I’ll say, "screw it,” – and do what I’ve put off for years. And I’ll be happy I did it.
Tick tock, tick tock – I hope these words survive me. I hope they bring awareness to someone, somewhere, doing something. Live your life… and live it well. Laugh, smile, dance, skip, jump, run, and know peace in your heart. You don’t have to be ignorant to the realities of life to be happy – but you also don’t have to be ignorant to the happiness of life to be in reality. If you falter, and you will sometimes and often – always remember that you have the choice to get up and try again. Never give up. Never put off anything until tomorrow you’ll regret not doing today. Find a way to make it happen – whatever it is. And remember this final thing…
You’re free – so spread your wings, and fly!
Originally written on Feburary 24, 2013 - posted August 29, 2013