Write Your Own Story
I often like to consider myself a visionary. However, the problem is often that I envision too much. Over the years the stories that I've wanted to live have changed quite often. One of the first lives I wanted to live was that of a traveling preacher. That quickly changed when I was 6 years old. I wanted to see what it would be like to say what was then to me a dirty word, out loud. I practiced just by myself for a week, finally started to get the gumption to do it, then got nervous and got bad diarrhea, practiced some more and then marched into my parents living room and with my chin held high said: "Damn, what the hell are y'all watchin' (in a very country accent)". A few fly swatters to the ass later and I decided that being a traveling preacher might not be in the cards for me. Since then, there have been a lot of different stories I've wanted to live. Hollywood actor, lawyer, doctor, professional video game player and many others. In Donald Miller's new book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years", he writes:
If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you probably wouldn’t cry when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on and sit in a chair to think about what you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend years living those stories in real life, and expect our experiences to feel meaningful. In truth, if the stuff we are doing with our lives wouldn’t make a movie meaningful, it won’t make a real life meaningful either.
Sometimes I don't even feel like I've even made it to Volvo status. To show for my life, I have: a philosophy degree, a rocky relationship with my deceased father, a failed marriage and thousands of dollars in debt that is finally getting paid off. Why am I telling you this? Not to bitch, but to tell you that these things only define us if we LET them define us. Plus I just feel like I need to tell these things. I'm finding that life is much LESS about what happens to us, and MUCH more about how we react to it. We're becoming today, who we'll be tomorrow. For whatever reason, I believe many of the things in my life have happened to show me that this isn't the story I was meant to live in, but that it's time for me to start writing a new story; my own story.
Yesterday I went to Twitter to find out what people there thought about wanting to be a part of a different story. Keith Savage, of Traveling Savage, stated: "We simply know too much about what is 'out there' to be happy with what we've got. So we search. We question. We travel. The difference today is that it might be easier to live the life we imagine. In some ways, this is a more stressful and painful position to be in. Ultimately, the human currency that's always needed at the end is courage. Courage to change. Courage to risk. Courage to achieve your dream. Courage to face failure and carry on." Taking those risks, I believe, is often one of the greatest struggles, as well as the line that separates whether or not the life we live is meaningful. But what is a meaningful life? I think that varies per person. Living a life as an insurance salesman with a loving wife and kids, may be just as meaningful as the world traveler who writes best selling books.
I talked to another person on Twitter, Backpacking Tom from Top Backpacking Destinations, who said that he too often finds himself in a similar predicament. His traveling buddy has continued to chase his dreams of traveling the world, while Tom has always traveled for weeks or months at a time, before coming back home.
So what about me? I'm about to write my own story. What will it entail? Not sure. But do we truly ever know? If we really knew where we were going to be months and years from now, would it hold the same allure and sense of adventure? I do, however, know that it's going to involve moving; and more than likely out of the country, probably on the beaches of Central America. It'll also involve traveling and writing about it, mixed with some volunteering. These are the things that I'm most passionate about in my life, and it's about time I truly pursue those passions.
Whatever you do, don't sell your belongings and quit your job! If you do, I'll tell people I don't know you. However, why don't you begin by considering the story you're writing for yourself. Is it the one you want to write? If it's not, you don't have to begin by doing something extreme. Whatever your passions or dreams are, I can guarantee there are brick walls standing between you and them. However, I echo Randy Pausch's words when he spoke about brick walls being there not to keep us out, but to prove how bad we want something. If you truly want something bad enough, you'll do everything you can to make it happen.
Thank you for reading my philosophical rants and thank you for those new characters who are part of my new story.