The bad news: those things will be the hardest in the whole world to change. Which is why you haven’t changed them already.
I’m a big fan of stories to make a point… Billy once had a dream as well.
Through squinted eyes, Billy’s pencil sketched across the paper, a furry of motion. At only six years old, he knew what he wanted most in the world; to be a space explorer. Planets, comets, starships, asteroids and danger sprang to life from the nothingness of the white paper before him. His wild imagination created the world he wanted to live in.
Stretched out on the floor, feet swaying in the air, Billy drew his imagination on paper. Colored pencils added depth to the planet, providing foliage and oceans to an otherwise barren landscape. Red flames burst from the engines of his spaceship and blue lasers snaked across the shaded void to vanquish the enemy craft in a blaze of yellow and orange. Billy smiled to himself in satisfaction.
Billy’s Mom came into the living room, hands full with groceries and extra work. She blew a lock of hair from her face, and looked down at her son. “Billy, that’s enough drawing. I need your help with the groceries.”
The pleading was thick in his eyes and voice, “Mom, I just want to finish this thing.” He said.
She set the groceries down on the counter with a sigh, “Now Billy.”
Reluctantly, and with an air of pouting that his mother chooses to ignore, Billy got up from his masterpiece and went in the kitchen to help put away the groceries.
“Hey Mom. Wanna know something?” Billy asked.
“What is it Son?” Billy’s mom said.
“I’m gonna be a space explorer!” Billy said, pure joy in his smile.
“That’s nice, hon.” His Mom said, trying her hardest to be supportive.
That’s all Billy needed though, and he began to tell her about his planned adventures. On and on he went, no detail was too minute to hash out. Eventually his Mom had enough, “Okay Billy. I get it, you want to be a spaceman. That’s enough, okay?”
But it wasn’t enough, “I want to be a space explorer Mom, not a spaceman,” he corrected her.
Just then, Billy’s Mom didn’t watch where she was walking and stepped on his pencils and drawing. Billy yelled out, “Mom!” as his Mom swore out loud. Billy stopped in his tracks.
“Billy, that’s enough! You are not going to be a space explorer or anything like that. Life’s hard enough, you don’t need silly dreams that just can’t come true. Now pick up pencils and throw away this garbage.” She was pointing at his drawing.
Tears filled Billy’s eyes but he held them back, “But, I want to be a space explorer. More than anything.”
Billy’s Mom softened, “ I know Honey, but you just have to realize that the world doesn’t work like that. You need to be realistic.”
Billy nodded his head, not quite believing her. He walked over, picked up his “garbage” and threw it away in the trash.
And that’s how it starts, the slow terror that grips our hearts and dreams, telling us that living our lives isn’t really possible.
Billy’s Mom didn’t mean to crush his dreams, and she wasn’t the final word. Can you remember a time when this happened? It’s the silent death of the soul, and it teaches us how to tell stories about ourselves.
Stories like the one above can set in motion a chain of events leading to this:
The sound of recycled air clicked on above and William felt the stale breeze touch his hand. His cubicle felt less oppressive as he doodled on a scrap of paper. His pencil danced across the makeshift canvas but William was barely aware of what he was creating. This came second nature to him.
Deep inside, where he locked it away, William dreampt of being an artist. The thought of drawing and giving people pleasure and perhaps meaning through his creations made his heart nearly burst with happiness. But how can he? He has to pay the bills, he has to be realistic. You can’t just pursue what makes you happy, you have to work too. That’s how the world works.
William feels someone behind him and instinctively places a hand over his work. He looks up to see his co-worker, Denise, trying to peak through his hand.
“What were you drawing?” she asked.
“Nothing, just something I had in my head,” William says with a sigh.
“Can I see the whole thing? It looked like something you’d see in comic book. Do you draw for one of those?”
William snorted, “I wish. No, I just doodle. It’s nothing.” But he tentatively holds the scrap up for Denise to inspect.
She takes it from his hand and looks it over carefully, “I don’t really go in for fantasy but this looks pretty good. You should be an artist or something.”
William takes back his art and slowly crumples it up, “Ya, maybe someday. I just can’t quit my job and draw all the time. Maybe I’ll win the lottery or something, right?”
Both he and Denise share a sad laugh.
Denise thinks about the other night in the Karaoke bar, how she sang her heart out and the place erupted in applause. That’s what she lived for, her weekend performances, those moments of pure bliss. She shook her head and walked away from William’s cubicle. He was right, what was she going to do, quit her job and sing for a living? Maybe someday…
It’s in there. That deep, burning passion that keeps you up at night. That thing that you want most. And life, people, everything conspires for you to ignore it.
I bet it keeps you up at night, refusing to stop bugging you. Especially at your lowest points; those moments where it seems you have nothing else, it’s still there, haunting you. Even if you accomplish great things throughout your life, this one idea, dream, or desire nags in the back of your mind and won’t let go. It hurts.
You have to stop and accept that it’s there.
We all have a secret desire, an inner burning passion to do something great with our lives. Believe me, your desire is there. Whenever you get passionate about a subject, when life’s injustice seems too much to bear. You will see it when you find your self lecturing someone unintentionally. That’s your passion. You need to pursue it.
You are aching to pursue that passion.
But so often we choose not to. We choose instead to ignore it, to give up, to play the xBox or the latest Facebook game. Something inside of us holds us back and we give in to the fear, let the Panic control us. We choose hobbies or semi-passionate pursuits, but not the one thing that makes us come alive.
But why is that?
No one dreams of being mediocre, or working at something that is less than remarkable. Is your deepest desire to just get by? No, we want to make something special, something remarkable. We want to create things that last. We want to do great work, but we settle for story of getting by and “doing what we have to”.
Our souls are dying because of that.