Reach For Stars
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
~ James Allen
I am saddened when I look at society today. Of course, part of the sadness comes from the crime, the homelessness and the overall injustice that I witness, but a great amount of my sadness comes from witnessing so many people who seemingly have given up.
It is not in my DNA to do so, but then maybe I haven’t suffered as much as others. For those of you who know my story, you probably think I have had my share of tough times, and you would be right. If that is true, then why haven’t I given up while so many others have?
You see them in all walks of life. They have the vacant stare, the lifeless eyes, and the smile that lacks happiness. They are going through the motions, and each day appears to be a replica of the last, and the last was certainly no picnic.
I am not talking about the homeless or the crippled, the abused or the mentally ill. I am talking about those who seemingly have a life, who go to work each day, come home to family, or by themselves, and yet find no joy in life. What has happened to them? What happened to those dreams they had when they were children? What happened to their inquisitiveness and the thrill they once had when they faced each new day and its unlimited possibilities?
FROM TEACHING CAME SOME INSIGHTS
I have witnessed an interesting shift in society over the past thirty years. Where once I had students who had dreams and then went off in pursuit of those dreams, now I see students who, by the time they hit high school, have lost sight of their dreams, and do not believe it possible to achieve whatever dreams they might have.
How has that happened? Of course I’m not talking about all kids, but I can say with all certainty that the numbers have increased dramatically in the past thirty years, so much so that it is not only kids now, but adults as well, who have no memory of once dreaming and believing in those dreams.
I am trying to imagine a life without dreams. I am sixty-four and I still have dreams for the future, and I am working towards those dreams as we speak. What is it that stops so many? What complicated thoughts and emotions are churning inside of them, preventing them from reaching for the stars
A PROCESS I HAVE OBSERVED
In the brilliant book “The Alchemist,” Paulo Coelho speaks of four obstacles that prevent many from reaching their dreams.
· The first is that we are told from childhood that everything we want to do is impossible.
· The second is love. We know what we want, but we are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything to chase our dream.
· The third is a fear of the failures or defeats we will face along the journey.
· The fourth is the fear of realizing the dreams which we have chased after.
It is interesting that three of the four obstacles mentioned by Coelho are associated with fear; interesting but all too easy to understand.
My father was the bravest man I have ever known, but I suspect he was afraid of chasing a dream. He worked the same job, a manual labor job in a sand & gravel pit, for twenty years, and hated most of those twenty years on the job. However, I am quite certain that leaving that job and chasing some dream was the last thing on his mind.
I am sure he felt a responsibility to his family to just tough it out, despite his feelings. I am sure he was afraid that he would fail if he tried something different, and I am certain that he was afraid of what would happen if he did succeed and find a job that was more meaningful and rewarding. I have no doubt of it at all.
On the other hand, and I mention this only as an example in trying to understand, I have never known fear in these types of decisions. I will leave a job in a heartbeat if it does not bring me joy, and I have no problem starting a new undertaking, like writing, when I am in my Sixties. Now why is that? How could I be raised by a nurturing and yet frightened man, and turn out completely different? Since I am adopted any discussion about DNA is moot, and obviously the nurture argument is not valid in my case.
I have taught several kids from the same family, and I am still amazed that one sibling will be a dream chaser and the other will be afraid to try anything new. Why is that?
A song to live by
I UNDERSTAND AND YET I DO NOT
I know this with every ounce of my being: life is too short not to chase after your dreams, and that’s why it saddens me to see so many people who will not do so.
I am reminded of that fabulous song by Tim McGaw….”Live Like You Were Dying.” Let’s face it, we all are! We are all dying, and not a one of us knows if this will be our last day on this planet, so why aren’t we living like it? Why aren’t we grabbing hold of the lightning bolt, and why aren’t’ we laughing at the face of challenge? Why do we shrivel with the fear of failure or better yet, why do we shrivel with the fear of success?
Why do we allow others to convince us that we cannot achieve or better yet, why do we convince ourselves of it?
Do not tell me that you cannot do it. I will overwhelm you with an endless array of stories about average people who refused to give up on their dreams.
Do not tell me you are not good enough, or that you are too old, or that you are not smart enough. I will tell you that excuses are like assholes and they serve the same purpose.
Do not tell me that life is not fair and you just can’t catch a break. I will tell you that life is as fair as you make it, and bad luck is an excuse used by those looking for the exit sign.
Do you know how to reach for the stars? Do you remember, so very long ago, when you believed that you could do anything?
It begins today….right here….right now! Listen carefully and follow my instructions….are you ready?
Hold up your arm over your head. Open your hand and extend your fingers. Now reach!
2013 William Holland (aka billybuc)