“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace
When we are children we believe we can conquer the world. We are going to fly to the moon, discover new lands, be famous movie stars, sail the seas, save the planet from the bad guys, and perform miracles upon request. It was a busy life for us as youngsters and also one that is charged with hope and confidence. I’m not sure when it happens, but as we become older something changes. Somewhere along life’s path many of us loose this notion that we can be anything or do anything and replace it with what we consider to be a ‘practical’ notion of ourselves.
In a recent show I did on Authentic Happiness with Professor Ben O’Neal, he revealed that one of the factors that determine a person’s overall happiness is their willingness to take risks and try new things. Most of us are risk takers occasionally; we buy things on credit, drink milk past the expiration day, and leave the house without brushing our teeth first. However this is not the type of risk taking that leads to happiness.
The type of risk that leads to happiness is one in which we learn something new about ourselves. While we live in our skin everyday, the truth is that very few of us know what our own potential is and I dare say, few of us have actually scratched the surface of it.
Sitting as I do, in the seat of a high school counselor, I get the opportunity to meet hundreds of new families each year. I’m always impressed by the foreign single women who uproot their children and bring them to the United States so that they, themselves, can get an education at one of our national universities. These are not young, 20- somethings with carefree lives; these are mothers of teenagers with gray hair and very little financial resources. However what they do possess is greater than youth or money; they have their dream and that dream drives everything they do.
Many years ago I had a student named Sang Dinh. Sang was from Vietman and sent by his mother to live with his father as a teenager. When Sang moved to the US he learned his father was a violent drunk and after taking the brunt of his anger, Sang moved out. He was 15 and knew very little English. To survive, Sang washed dishes and rented space on the floor of a one-bedroom apartment. He also came to school everyday because he had a dream. Sang’s mother was very sick and could not afford the drugs she needed. Sang wanted to go to school so he could be a pharmacists. This dream led him to graduate from high school, and go to college.
Our dreams are the fuel for our lives. They provide the inspiration which we use to write our life’s story and are the anchor we refer back to when we make decisions about taking next steps. Though inspired from beyond us, they are firmly rooted within and call to us both day and night.
Living to our fullest potential means ignoring what appear to be ridiculous obstacles and keeping on, keeping on. It means following that inner voice and shunning the ‘practical’ one that keeps trying to reason with the dreamer. It is the dreamers of this world that truly live, for they have the courage to think beyond what they can see and create the world they want.