Sept. 29, 2010
For those who dream dreams, the most difficult part is not in the dreaming or in the achieving of a dream. It is in reminding oneself to return to the dream, when the vision has grown foggy. Sometimes vision grows foggy because the obstacles seem too huge to overcome. Other times, vision grows foggy because we get sidetracked by too much clutter, too many goals, and simply too much noise in our lives. There is, however, a third and more ominous way to lose your vision: You lose sight of the beauty of your own dream. Too many a brave and noble cause has been snuffed out in the hour of testing before a powerful movement was nearly unleashed.
Why? Why do we lose faith in the things that at one point could move us to tears? Why do we lose sight of the lives and worlds we envisioned in our minds? Do we wear out because of long hours of tedious and arduous work? Do we tire of fighting the never ending uphill battle? I won’t claim to have the definitive answer here, but I will use my personal example: For a while, I was beginning to lose my vision for this skate across America! I knew what I set-out to achieve from the beginning: Basically, I set-out to inspire others to find the courage and passion within themselves to take the first steps toward creating the freedom they envision for their own lives. Somehow, along the long way, I began to lose sight of that, in the sense that I wasn’t sure it could or should be real. The official skate doesn’t start until this Friday, but I’ve probably already skated something like 800 miles and spoken of my vision on literally thousands of occasions.
How could I, the one who was supposed to be inspiring, be losing my own inspiration? The truth is, I began to question if the message I wanted to carry could possibly make a difference. You must understand: my doubts as to whether this message could create real change were not centered in the fact that it might fall on some deaf ears; there will always be deaf ears. No, my doubts were deeper: I begin to question if true freedom really lived in me! I understood that if freedom did not live in me, I could never inspire change in the world. Freedom begins as a seed in the mind of one person and grows until that person can no longer contain it. As it busts outward, it begins to settle in the hearts and minds of others as well. So you see: If freedom did not live in me, it could never come out of me.
At times, I’ve felt powerless to even imagine how I could affect the change I wanted to see in the world. But now, I know what I was doing wrong: I wasn’t living the very message I was teaching! Sure I was doing something gutsy and huge, but I was trying to make it something besides freedom bursting forth from within me. Somehow, I forgot that it is not my job to change the way you think. It is not my job to create the freedom you must create in yourself. It is not my job even to change the world. It is my ego that tells me that “I must” do all of these things. The truth is: My job is quite simple! My job is to live the freedom that I teach! I remember a quote from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” In trying to conform the message I was carrying to what it “should” be, I was losing sight of the freedom within me. My freedom is to inspire the world by taking on challenges that force me to overcome myself. My freedom is in living an incredible adventure. My freedom is in having the courage to face anything without fear, because I have come to total acceptance of the destiny I have chosen for myself.
If you are losing track of the vision and the dream that once made you free, you must first decide if you want it back. Sometimes, we move on from a dream, because it is no longer big enough to encompass us. But if you truly find your freedom in the dream, you must return to it by remembering how it made you feel. You must experience that freedom again, if you want to be inspired enough to believe it matters again. We all have our methods of returning. I find that music has a certain ability to return me to a certain emotional and cognitive state; I use it consistently to remind me of what I was seeking to begin with. Whatever your method, your task today is simple: Return. Return to your vision and your dream.