We have all had childhood dreams. And, adulthood dreams, too.
Some of them were obviously not going to pan out for some of us: dancer on a Britney Spears tour, mother of 12 children, member of The Bangles, high level attorney, etc. Ok, those were mine…none of which I had a legitimate shot at.
But, there were also other, more realistic, dreams. None of which came true, either: married for life to my first true love, podium finisher at the CrossFit Games, best friends for life with my girl crew from 10 years ago, etc.
Dreams are beautiful. They give us hope, something to guide us. Dreams send us down a path towards something that we believe will bring us huge amounts of satisfaction and the feeling like we never gave up on ourselves.
But, if we cling too tightly to those dreams, they can end up doing the very opposite for us. They can imprison us and leave us, as some people think of it, climbing ladders that are leaning on the wrong walls.
I can’t remember what video game it is…I think I it’s Donkey Kong…but, I think of it like this: your dream leans your ladder up one wall. If you’re “too” committed to that dream, you refuse to hop off at the different levels that you pass.
Sometimes we’re too focused on our dream and we don’t even see the other levels. Sometimes we’re too scared to get off the ladder we started on because we don’t know where we’ll end up if we change our direction. And, sometimes we just stay on that ladder because we’re too far up it to turn around; we’ve just been climbing it so long that it feels like it doesn’t even make sense to stop.
We’ve all had at least one ladder in our lives, if not many different versions all at the same time. The ladders represent romantic relationships, career paths, athletic endeavors, friendships, etc.
There are an endless number of possible ladders we’re climbing at any one point. But, the point is the same with all of them: an unbridled commitment to one ladder does not guarantee you end up living your dream. Because the dream isn’t what you thought it was when you started “the journey”.
The real “dream” isn’t ending up with your first true love, it’s to end up with true love. The real “dream” isn’t ending up on the podium at the CrossFit Games, it’s finishing a season truly knowing you performed at your best. The real “dream” is knowing you’re surrounded by the people that bring out the best in you, the ever-changing you, and embracing the fact that friendships have evolutions just like species do.
The worst thing we can do in the world of ladders is to fight them off in an effort to live out our “dream”. Forcing dreams is a product of judgements we’ve gathered telling us that one ending is better than another, attachments to outcomes we’ve always expected to happen, and resistance to what the universe is dishing out to us at any given moment.
When I catch myself trying to force something, the phrase I always fall back on may be cliche, but it’s beautifully elegant in it’s simplicity: let it be.
Let yourself dream, but be careful in what you understand that dream to be.
Let yourself climb your ladder, but believe in yourself enough to try a ladder leaning on a different wall.
And, let yourself be open to being vulnerable, open to handing your direction over to nature, and open to the potential in not knowing what’s going to happen.
Just, let it be.