A photo taken on the Appalachian Trail. – Source.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity. – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I was born with a slight congenital hip deformity, and for most of my life I have managed with it just fine. I have always walked slightly different than most people, but most my friends and even some family members have never noticed. But my hip has given me some pain over the last few years. The bones are not aligned the way nature intended. The muscles and tendons pull at angles they were not designed to pull. My doctor told me last year that I might want to considering getting a cane. The last few weeks, it has hurt enough that I have had trouble sleeping at night. So last week I started using a cane.
I have had several opportunities in the passed week to feel bad about myself. A lot of the dreams and desires that I have for my life involve being physically active. I want to walk the 400+ mile Camino de Santiago this fall, for example. I plan to climb a mountain someday and I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. Having to use the cane, though, has made me doubt that I will be able to do this, though. But then I realized, that I can do it anyway. It is just my ego that puts the conditions on my dreams.
There’s always a way – if you’re committed. – Tony Robbins
There’s no abiding success without commitment. – Tony Robbins
A few years ago I watched a documentary about Mark Inglis, a double amputee who climbed Mount Everest. I have thought this last week what that would have meant for him. Mount Everest is hard enough to climb for people without physical challenges. The fact that he completed the climb with no legs is a big deal. One of the things that I realized was that if this man could climb the world’s tallest mountain with no legs, then I could certainly hike and do the things I want to do with a cane. I am not going to be in denial, though. The fact that I need the cane, at least for the time being, means that I have to approach my dreams and desires from a different angle. I need to ask myself why I want to accomplish the dreams. Do I actually want to live out the journey or do I simply want to change my self image, or, more importantly, do I simply want to look good to others?
I need to be specific about what the dream really is. Do I want to hike the Appalachian Trail or do I simply want to be able to tell people that I have hiked the Appalachian Trail? If all I want to do is tell people I have walked the trail, I could do that now, regardless of whether it is true or not. I would never do that, but I say that to force myself to examine why I want to hike the trail. Do I want to just be at Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT? I could drive there if that is all I want to accomplish. But, if my dream is to really walk the trail, then I need to want to actually hike it. I need to want to do more than just have completed the trail. There is a big difference. There are a lot of steps to fulfilling any dream, and unless I am willing to take all the steps needed to achieve the dream, I need to question how important it is and if I was ever willing to do it for the right reasons. To return back to my Appalachian Trail example, there are a plethora of things that need to be done just to get on the trail: gear has to be bought, money has to be raised for 5 months worth of food, off trail expenses have to be managed in some manner, travel arrangements have to be made and paid for to and from the trail, etc. Hiking the Appalachian Trail starts way before actually setting foot on the trial. There could be months or even years worth of planning, saving, training, and work involved just to get on the trail.
My ego attaches a lot of conditions onto my dreams and desires. Ego tries to tell me how long it should or should not take to complete a dream. It tries to tell me how gracefully I should execute the dream. It tries to say that I can only complete these dreams once I am retired or once I have my house paid off or once my hip problem is better or once my friends and family approve. It has an endless list of conditions that are wrapped around a pseudo-sense of control, safety, and social standing. My ego even tries to assign things on my existential to-do list because it wants to know it has done certain things that will allow it to feel good about itself and allow it so show it’s glory to everyone else.
Egotistical reasons are not good enough reasons to follow a dream or a desire to completion. My dreams and desires should be there because they resonate on the deepest level of who I am. They do not always need to make sense. My dreams should be there simply because I want or need to have the entire experience of fulfilling the dream. My dreams should be something that I am truly passionate about, because nothing in life is worth doing without passion.
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela