Have you ever felt like you were drifting through your life without any control over it? Yeah, me too.
I turned 40 today. And I’m having these moments when it feels as if I spent my first four decades like Moses and the Israelites, wandering through a desert, seeking some promised land. But instead of sand, my desert was made of procrastination. There are so many things I’ve put off, telling myself I’ll get to them “someday.”
Looking back over the years, it’s easy to see just the indecision, the frustrations and failures, the heartaches and disappointments. Maybe you can relate to this: as a young man, most of the advice I got about how to live life amounted to “Good luck, kid!” and a pat on the back. Then they give you a hasty run-down of some limited options, like a used car salesman trying to gloss over the details so you’ll buy the lemon he wants to get off his hands.
Well, I wound up buying the lemon. Because I let myself be convinced that I couldn’t run a life on dreams. So many people have given up on a fulfilling life. And through no maliciousness on their part (usually), they work hard to convince others there’s no point having higher hopes. And they tell you they’re doing you a favor by being “realistic.”
So I grew up, went to college and graduated, and half-blindly picked a career path. Then the wandering began. I let the “wisdom” of disillusioned people drown out the song humming through my soul. That song is the truth of who and what I’m supposed to be in this life.
But here’s some good news for you and me: we don’t have to wander anymore. And we can crank up our soul songs to eleven, so everyone around us can hear it loud and clear!
Get Corrective Lenses for Your Hindsight
I want you to do something with me: look back at all the years you’ve already lived. Now, look past the negative things to the good times beneath. Push aside the chores, the stress, the multitude of present demands. Toss aside the useless regrets. Underneath the negative that we’re hardwired to see first, there’s a treasure trove of the good things you’ve experienced.
Joseph Cambell said “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Sometimes, that cave is inside of us, and we’re afraid to explore the depths of our own selves. But there are wonderful personal discoveries to be made when we’re brave enough to take the hero’s journey within.
Most of us, if we’re really honest with ourselves, have had more good times than bad. Remember all the successes, the happiness, the celebrations and moments of wonder. Remember there were those few who didn’t fill you with hopelessness; those were the people that actually made a meaningful impact on your younger self.
Getting Older = Just Another Hero’s Journey
We don’t have to just put our heads down to push and shove our way through this world. If you live that way, when you stop to take a breather, you’ll have too many times when you say “Wow, where did the time go?” I’ve said that too many times in my own life. But not anymore.
We need to see getting older as just another hero’s journey. We’re challenged daily to make the most of our time here. We can make the choice to bring together dreams and action and be brave enough to live the way we want.
I’m not some enlightened guru. I’ve just made the choice to no longer ignore the inner voice nagging at me, reminding me I have some big things I want to accomplish in life.
There is no one path to fulfillment. You have to figure out what it means for your specific life, and avoid comparing what you’ve accomplished to what others have done. Comparison never really works out, because there is no one answer to the question, “what’s the meaning of life.” There is incredible freedom in that realization!
It doesn’t matter what makes your mind churn with possibilities, your heart soar, and your soul sing. It only matters that you don’t waste any more of your precious time! It doesn’t matter how “humble” or “grandiose” your dreams may seem to others. They’re YOUR dreams, and they’re just as valid and important as anyone else’s.
But that means only YOU can bring them to life. Until you do, the things left undone will gnaw at your happiness. So stop procrastinating, and get to work! Dreams are not enough! You need to act on them!
Let’s drive the lemon life we were sold back to the lot, and trade it in for the hot-rod life we’re supposed to be driving. Let’s create our own promised land instead of waiting for it to materialize out of thin air.
You can hear the voices too, can’t you? What are they telling you? You better listen, before 40 more years pass by in the blink of an eye!