My friend Kailani (link to blog on the side bar) is working toward her dream of traveling the world for a year (by plane, train, and pack mule) and a recent blog of hers got me thinking about what it takes to passionately follow the dreams in our hearts.
As children, anything seems possible. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton win the Gold Medal in gymnastics and thinking (with absolutely no regard to my staggering lack of coordination) that I too would be a gold medalist, but not just in gynastics. I would medal in figure skating too. And I would do that while writing stories and performing concerts where I would sing, play the piano, and play the violin. And in my spare time I would race horses and live in a castle and keep a pet dragon that I took out for night flights to burst through the curtain between this world and that of the faeries who would, of course, crown me their long-lost Queen. And when I was done with that, I would go to college, get married, have children, bake Christmas cookies, and maybe travel overseas every few weeks.
Of course, my staggering lack of coordination prevented me from competing in the Olympics (although I'm still holding out for Power Shopping) and I don't yet know how to play the violin. I've never raced a horse (and after being rudely kicked in the head by the last one I approached, I don't think I really want to after all) or lived in a castle (though I'm still young, that can happen) or kept a pet dragon. I am, of course, the secret Queen of the faeries but you didn't hear it from me.
What happens to our delicious sense of adventure and daring as we grow up? Why do we slowly cast aside all the dreams that used to sparkle for us until we are left trudging the same well-worn rut of everyone around us? Graduate from high school. Get a job. Or go to college, graduate, then get a job. Hopefully it's one you like but better just take what you can get rather than hold out for what you really want because who gets that?
It's like our lives become cluttered with traffic signs: Stop - that isn't practical. Merge - everyone says you need to go this way. Dead End - just forget about the road less traveled. Speed Limit - keep it safe and steady.
What if we looked into our hearts and identified our dreams? The ones that still sparkle if we dust them off. The ones that still make hearts race with possibilities. What if we decided to breathe life into our dreams and ignore the traffic laws littering our adult world?
What if we didn't stop but found a way to mix the practicality of paying bills with the passionate pursuit of an impractical dream? What if we stopped merging and said, God has called me to go this way and off I go? What if we didn't see a dead end but saw endless possibilites in uncharted waters instead?
What if we valued risk over safety?
I will never be an Olympic medalist (unless that blasted committee finally approves my Power Shopping petition). I won't be a jockey. I won't be a concert pianist either. But that's okay because the deeper dreams of my heart are alive and growing. I will not come to the end of my life and regret the path I took to get there. Better to live a life of spectacular, beautiful failures on the way to seeing a dream come true than to huddle in safety, never stretching myself to discover what I can really be.