Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Chase Alone - The Pursuit of Your Dreams

In our childhood flight of the imagination, a few of us wanted to be astronauts, some ballerinas. Some cowboys, others doctors – we had among us lawyers, athletes, presidents, chefs, pilots, singers, actors, painters, authors, teachers.… In the corner of our minds we had our future mapped out and it seemed so possible, so realistic, so within reach and inevitable.

Then life happened.
I cannot remember the last time I stopped to remember who I was. Or what I wanted to become or where I was heading. Used to be a time when I would “escape” the pressure forces around me, clear my mind, and continue to develop my plan for the future. In that entirety, however, I deserted the inner wishes of my essence. A moment of awakening when you notice that the hustle and bustle of life’s happenings have misplaced the dreams of childhood of what you thought would become; the mark you thought you would leave.

If we are being honest, most of us cannot remember the true feeling of having the world by its tail.
What was the price you paid to give up on your dream? Mine was a package deal, complete with three weeks paid vacation, parking (although three blocks uphill both ways), and a view overlooking a scenic park. It was meant to be a temporary stepping stone into medical school. But as I settled into my routine of motherhood, I quickly grasped the conception of a medical student’s schedule. The residency agenda alone was not the hands on approach I wanted in raising my son; watching him grow up in photos was not the ideal picture I had in mind. So I thought I would hit the pause button on that dream and pursue law school; it was a passion of mine – politics, negotiations, justice. But yet, after graduating with my undergrad, I soon fell into the comfort zone of that package deal I had signed up for. As weeks turned into months, I soon saw five years dissipate and with them my aspirations of what truly placed fire in my spirit.

The "Easier" Road
I saw a movie once that asked the question “why do children love athletes?” … the response gave me the giggles, “Because they have sex with lingerie models.”... and to continue those chortles was the response, “No, that’s why we love them” … Children love athletes because they followed their dreams. When we were younger we were taught we could be anything we desired. Destined for greatness. Anything our hearts most wanted could be obtained. As we grew older, we relinquished that fire inside of us that wanted to pursue our dreams no matter the cost. We quickly became wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life, the easier road. Soon our dreams were sacrificed, put on hold, and for some, given up completely for the comforts society deems necessary. Money, power, the white picket fence – these are the consoles presented that gave us the illusion that what we so desired to be way back in the days of old was worth giving up …. To be comfortable.

Granted, the easier road is misleading as it truly is not that easy. More often than not there is more bills than money, more trials that success, more tears than smiles it seems. But what if, just for a moment, you picture yourself giving up your current comfort zone to once again chase your dream … That road too is hard, almost unimaginable to obtain … but those who become what they are meant to be only accomplish such an achievement by taking that HARDER ROAD. They never give up, even when, ESPECIALLY when the road is paved with hard decisions, tough trials, slamming doors, the “never going to happen”, the word no, the heartache, and at times despair. They continue the pursuit of their dreams because they know only in that quest will they find pure happiness. The easier road is not part of their traveled path. Trying and failing far beats regret any day of the week. And they choose to try, for without trying what is life? A meaningless exists of routine that provides a lack of true pleasure – just a series of events that we face, not that we LIVE. Choosing to persevere through hardships, self doubt, and defeat is the only solution for chasing that dream you so once held so close. In order to truly give merit to what we dreamed up so long ago, we must seek our goals and aspirations no matter the cost of hardship. For without dreams, there is no meaning or purpose and all is lost.

What if today was your last day?
Would you be comfortable with your legacy, your mark on the world? Would you have achieved those goals, aspirations, dreams that you once created and dreamt up many moons ago? Do you have the inner courage to give up the comfort of today in order to give your dreams a possibility at a fighting chance? You cannot ignore the pain of the past, but how long are you going to mourn and in turn move on? Life has given us difficult lessons to shape us, and will continue to provide such lessons; shouldn’t the classroom be in the format of “achieving your dreams” instead of “just getting by”? Nothing is set in stone, and call me crazy, but I don’t want to pretend any more that just getting by is enough to quench my appetite of what life truly can offer, if we are brave enough with inner courage to pursue.

Stop living in fear and fight for your dreams – the diminutive and the immense.
Life shapes us, and restructures our goals; there comes a moment when life goes off course and in this desperate moment you must choose your direction. For me, I want to be somebody who can face the things I have been running from. I want to feel and get back in touch with that girl who had the world by the tail; even if it means I fall down. I no longer want to be the expert at playing it safe and staying in the comfort zone; I refuse to let my life rule over what I long desire. Even though the tears, at least I will know I lived if I truly go after what I most wished so long ago … a person who changes the world one individual at a time … I want to be somebody who is true to her inner spirit and no longer sold out for a package deal – complete with a view or not – nothing can compare to the view I would have if and WHEN I truly achieve and become who I am meant to be. Does it mean I will get to wear ballet shoes and perform this year’s solo performance? Not likely … but it does mean that I will reopen my mind to the possibilities that I can have – the possibilities that are endless – the possibilities that make life mine. And in turn, I may not become a doctor that fixes the sick, but I will be in my son’s eyes “a doctor” of life’s achievements – of getting the point that getting by is not enough.

And … so can you be that somebody. Ask yourself the question of what is holding you back, and then in the same retrospect, what would be enough to push you forward? Fighting for that dream, even if it ends in utter failure, is the greatest achievement in one’s quest. It may not come in a framed diploma that hangs on your wall, but the chase alone is the wood, the air, the fuel your fire needs to grow … and the “smores” of childhood will never taste as sweet as being produced from the fire you yourself created.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Have you Noticed Your Miracle Today?

Recently I was reminded of the magnitude of a miracle, a real life event that has such power it generates an instant awakening of the soul. I had the personal experience to be in a hospital delivery room awaiting the arrival of one of my best friend’s first baby. Throughout the night I helped where I could. She wanted ice chips, I delivered. Jell-O, not a problem. The movie “All about Steve” to calm her nerves – I drove to four redboxes and with no luck dashed to Target and just bought the damn thing. I did the best I could to provide where I could. Not that she was alone, oh no. Her husband, also one of my treasured friends (and my “older brother” in every sense of the word besides the blood line), was attentively at her side.

When I wasn’t on ice chip or red box duty, I was waiting. While awaiting the arrival of the phenomenon of birth, I was watching the couple interact. The love held in the eyes of the husband, as he leans over and kisses her forehead. Pacing from the chair to the monitor, back to her side. Feverish gestures are read on his face – he is concerned about the love of his life, and the baby he and her have created. His wife, in pain and distress – constantly saying to him, “I just want this over”. As I took in the moment of what I was witnessing I remember thinking, they walked into this hospital as a couple, but they will leave a family of three; in the meantime the bond that already exists is strengthening by the power of a piercing, enduring experience that will change the course of their lives as they currently know it … and then, in that moment of clarity, seven hospital staff rushed in, gave direct orders that a c-section was happening, and happening now. With that they were on the way to save the baby. As she left the room, she looked at me – I gestured the ‘you are doing great’ hand motion and mouthed “olive juice” and she in turn gave “olive juice” right back, but I saw the fear in both of their eyes. The unknowing. The confusion. The conjecture.

…. And then, after twenty eight hours of labor, as miracles present themselves … the baby they had been longing for arrived. Healthy, gorgeous, and nestled in their arms. Tears of joy streamed. Smiles were endless. The pain of delivery was over, and now the invaluable incentive was there …

Miracles. During the struggle we don’t always see the end in sight. We try to breathe through the trials and tribulations, praying for it to just be over already, feverishly pacing wondering what else can be done. In the moments we are so consumed with the pain, the waiting, and the “don’t know what to do!” that we don’t always, and cannot always, stop to remember that at some point it will indeed be over. In turn, what we longed for will be there – what pain we went through will be worth it – what suffering had to happen, in turn delivered a marvel that leaves us relieved, basking in the glow.

My point, in case it’s not cut and dry clear: sometimes in life pain and suffering are a necessary component in order to bask in the glory of the true miracles in life. Although they are taxing, they are needed, required, and essential in order to truly appreciate and sustain the beauty in all that is real; in all that makes life worth it. Today I invite you to consider the possibility that the suffering you may in fact at this very moment be facing – in work, at home, with a loved one, with your bank account, in your life goals, at the root of confusion, with the unknowing, in your mind, and in your soul – well, this distress might in fact be there for a reason. Crazy notion perhaps, but if you truly think about the miracles that happen every day around us, and within us, then you can see the reason; and that reason is to produce something so miraculous that it far outweighs time, pain, and vacillation. Reasons such as learning, growing, discovering, building, trusting, understanding … and perseverance in life.

Perseverance that you never give up. You fight through the tenderness of all that is authentic and existing. You push forward, throughout the darkness of night, throughout many nights and into many days if required. Why? Because in the end, when the shade of mar and confusion have lifted, there will be left a vision of life so intense that you will forget every ounce of pain that it took to present itself. A reward so amazing that it changes the course of your life for the superior. A piece of history in your epic moment of time. A piece that you will look back upon and smile … the priceless aftermath is a reality of what true dazzling, bravura, classic life transitions will be had, and are still yet to be had. The delivery of a miracle is chaotic, a mystery, and an intense whirlwind of emotions … that convey to your continuation, to your realism, such euphoria that your only penance is to indeed appreciate the pain necessary to give such light to your world.

Miracles happen every day. Maybe not in the form of angels singing in the background with a full piece orchestra playing, but nonetheless they are there, making life transitions to that in which you know it ... making additions in both tiny and gigantic enormities. Stop for a moment to breath and take yours in.